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This chapter outlines the potential for photovoltaics (PV) to make a substantial contribution to the requirement for low carbon energy. Current and developing technologies are reviewed and assessed in terms of their energy payback times and carbon dioxide footprints. The constraints on the large scale deployment of existing non-silicon thin film PV technologies imposed by the availability and production levels of materials such as tellurium, indium and selenium are considered quantitatively using data from the UK and US geological surveys. The potential for thin film PV based on earth-abundant elements (e.g. Cu, Zn, Sn, S) is also examined. A simple logistic growth model is used to illustrate the likely impact in terms of resource demands of ramping up the installed PV capacity to reach 2 TW (peak) by 2050. The discussion highlights the need to consider possible bottlenecks now in order to develop the necessary capacity to meet the projections for PV made by a number of international organisations.

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