The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.
Indeed, by some calculations, the so-called "break-even point" between dirty energy input and clean output may already have arrived, researchers in the Netherlands reported.
Unlike fossil fuels, green energy made from wind and solar power is sustainable, because it’s generated by resources that won’t run out. Plus, it provides a way to fight climate change by reducing and even offsetting carbon emissions.
For example, the energy payback for solar power technology is just two years. That means it only takes two years for a solar park, or a home, to make the same amount of energy used in the manufacture and installation of its solar panels. And after that, those panels can provide decades of clean energy that’s better for the planet.
If you install high quality, high-efficiency solar panels they have a 2 year CO2 payback. This means that within two years, the energy you are generating will be fully carbon positive.
And for some places in Australia, it is even better. If you’re in Brisbane or Perth you’ll be looking at about a 1.4-year payback in CO2. For homes in Sydney, you’re probably looking at 1.5 to 1.6 years. After that, the panel is generating genuine carbon-positive electricity.
You might be asking how does the CO2 calculation work?
In your calculation you’ve got to count what it costs to get the aluminium and have that generated, and then also the manufacturing of the panel, and the making of the glass, and certain calculations are available that you know what this manufacturing process normally will take in energy. When you account for all of this, that's an average of two years until energy neutrality works out.