How Much Carbon Emissions Do Solar Panels Offset?

Posted in Clean Electric, Solar

In pursuit of cleaner energy and reduced carbon emission, it would be imprudent to not consider the carbon costs in the creation of solar panels themselves. Luckily, solar technology has been around the block, and analysis have been done on how much they offset versus how much carbon has been emitted in their creation. It is calculated that 1kWh of solar energy is equivalent to approximately 105 grams of carbon emitted when carbon emissions in their creation is divided by their lifetime (30 year) total production. Coal, on the other hand, has an average of 990 grams of carbon/ kWh and oil/diesel average at about 821g of carbon/ kWh. Natural gas comes in at a comparatively low carbon cost of 465g/kWh, but this does not take into account the negative externalities of fracking which often leave aquifers irreparably damaged. Wood/biomass — which is renewable and often considered rather clean — has a massive 1500g/kWh carbon emission (less of the other nasty nonsense coal emits like sulfur dioxide and acid gases).


When photovoltaics are compared to other commonplace methods of electrical generation in such a way the measures energy produced as opposed to emissions to create the product, it becomes self-evident that their creation, though somewhat carbon intensive from the factory point-of-view, pays for itself in very little time compared with their usable life.


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