It has been argued by solar sceptics for many years that solar panels use more electricity, usually fossil fuelled, to make each solar panel than the panel actually produces. This makes solar power not as environmentally green and friendly as we would like to believe. However, a new study released by Standford researchers has proven otherwise.
The report by the Standford Global Climate and Energy Project says that with the falling prices of pv together with the increases in efficiency during the manufacturing process has 2012 proving that solar panels actually contributed more to the global energy demand than it took out in the manufacturing process.
Michael Dale, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Global Climate & Energy Project (GCEP), said in a release. “Despite its fantastically fast growth rate, PV is producing – or just about to start producing – a net energy benefit to society.” Mr Dale said that the global PV market is well on its way to paying off its “energy debt” – this is likely to occur by 2015 if not, definitely before 2020. If PV costs and energy needs keep declining as they are, by 2020 less than 2% of global electricity will be needed to sustain growth of the industry. It will contribute up to 10% of the world’s electricity needs.
GCEP director, Sally Benson said, “GCEP is focused on developing game-changing energy technologies that can be deployed broadly. If we can continue to drive down the energy inputs, we will derive greater benefits from PV. Developing new technologies with lower energy requirements will allow us to grow the industry at a faster rate.”
According to Energy Matters, REC solar panels have a payback period of only 12 months meaning each module will be a net producer of energy for decades.