Solar Myth # 9 Manufacturing solar panels requires more energy than the solar module will produce.
According to a 2004 National Renewable Energy Laboratory study that analyzes several different panel technologies, “Producing electricity with photovoltaics (PV) emits no pollution, produces no greenhouse gases, and uses no finite fossil fuel resources.” and it takes only 1 – 4 years for the energy savings accumulated by producing electricity from solar to equal the energy cost of producing the panel.
Solar technology has improved in the years since this study was conducted, and production efficiencies have driven the “energy payback period” down even further. Solar modules generally have a 25 year warranty and can continue to produce long after that time frame(at a slightly reduced rate) lifetime production of a solar module exceeds far embedded costs.
Solar Myth #8 Solar will get more efficient, so I should wait (I don’t want to buy the first VCR)
Fact: Solar is a mature technology, and there has never been a better time to install solar. Basic solar photovoltaic technologies have been around for more than 30 years. While efficiencies have increased and costs have decreased, the basic solar electric panel is the same solar technology used in the 1960’s and 70s. The solar industry, like other electricity-generating industries, does not evolve as rapidly as the electronics industry has. (unlike computers or cellphones which experience dramatic improvements in short periods of time). When panels become more efficient, it simply means you wouldn’t need as many, because they’re better at converting. Given stable technology profile, a 30% federal tax credit (currently sun-setting in 2019) and a 500.00 per tax payer Montana State Tax Credit, solar is more affordable than ever and makes sense right now. Once installed, the panels are solid state, with no moving parts and have a 25 year warranty.
Al Gore returned to the Ted stage February 2016 with yet another not to be missed TED Talk. Al Gore: The case for optimism on climate change.
The facts about climate change are scary. “Every night on the news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”
Yet Al Gore is optimistic. Here are a few critical reason why.
- For Solar the news is exciting. “The best projections 14 years ago were that we would install one gigawatt per year by 2010. When 2010 came around, we beat that mark by 17 times over. Last year, we beat it by 58 times over. This year, we’re on track to beat it 68 times over.”
- “Now, the business community has certainly noticed this, because it’s crossing the grid parity point.Cheaper solar penetration rates are beginning to rise. Grid parity is understood as that line, that threshold, below which renewable electricity is cheaper than electricity from burning fossil fuels……Starting in 2010, investments globally in renewable electricity generation surpassed fossils. The gap has been growing ever since. The projections for the future are even more dramatic, even though fossil energy is now still subsidized at a rate 40 times larger than renewables.”
- “Germany, an industrial powerhouse with a climate not that different from Vancouver’s, by the way — one day last December, got 81 percent of all its energy from renewable resources, mainly solar and wind. A lot of countries are getting more than half on an average basis.”
- “Last year — if you look at all of the investment in new electricity generation in the United States, almost three-quarters was from renewable energy, mostly wind and solar.”
Click here to hear the entire Ted Talk and read the transcript.