Constraints on large-scale implementation of BioSolar Cells; Early-stage Assessment of Environmental Value Propositions

New BioSolar technologies require embedding in a technical life cycle framework and next broader embedding in economic, social and cultural surroundings and within physical constraints for their wide implementation. The goal of this project is to provide ex ante analysis of options and constraints of BioSolar technologies to help guide their development, and avoid costly mal-investment.

This research project involves the embedding of a number of prospective technologies to be developed within BioSolar Cells in their life cycle based functioning, specifying their physical requirements and constraints, and their economic, socio-political and broader cultural options and constraints. The analysis takes into account the time frames involved towards possible large scale implementation and the comparative advantages and disadvantages relative to reference alternatives in agricultural biomass production and purely physical photo-voltaics. The scenarios developed for the analysis have a level of detail apt for purpose. This means that for the specific foreground processes involved, the specification is at the level of functioning installations, while more background processes, like for materials production and the chemicals industry, general processes will be used, taken from input-output based scenarios. These background scenarios are not predictions but possible surroundings for the BioSolar cell systems. Such scenarios now do not exist. Many technologies require the same resources, like neodymium and palladium in many new energy production and transformation systems. The supply of these materials is often constrained, at a global level, in the sense that supply can have some absolute limitations. Such physical constraints are partly of a competitive nature, as with limited supply of rare metals or cheap concentrated CO2, which may also be essential for other new technologies.

As this ex ante analysis involves subjective estimates, involvement of specialists in the fields concerned is actively pursued, incorporating their expert judgments in the scenarios. The key deliverables are the assessment of about four TBSC cases investigated, as well as methods developed for the evaluation of other similar technologies.

 

The work on this project is performed at the Institute for Environmental Sciences (CML) of the University of Leiden.

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