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Ask the EcoGeek: The Energy Cost of Solar

Dear Mr. EcoGeek,
I've heard that it takes more energy to produce photovoltaic cells than the cells will ever produce throughout their lifetime. Is there any truth to the best place cialis without prescription online that, or are those naysayers just saying nay?

Spokane, WA

Short Answer:
Those naysayers are just saying nay! But that doesn't mean there's not more to this story.

Long Answer:

This myth was probably perpetuated by studying solar panels created for NASA. If you need something extremely efficient for use in outer-space, yes, then it doesn't matter how much energy you use to create the panel. But for use hear on Earth, it's ridiculous for anyone to say that solar panels consume more energy than they produce.

Of course, doing anything in this world takes energy. Whether it's building power lines or shipping oil from Saudi Arabia, it takes energy to make energy usable. In fact, there's a nifty number that puts all of this into perspective. It's called the “energy balance”, and it is, in short, the amount of energy you get out divided by the express cialis delivery energy you put in.

So, for corn ethanol, for example, we get 1.3 units of energy for every 1 unit we put in, so its energy balance is 1.3. Whereas for Brazilian sugar cane ethanol, we get 8 units of energy for every one we put in. As for gasoline, its energy balance is about 5.

So what does this have to do with solar? It is a bit incorrect to apply energy balance to solar panels, because they don't actually contain the energy, so it's not something that I've ever actually seen done. But I think it makes sense to next day tramadol fudge it a bit in light of your question.

Data from a study(pdf) from Energy Environment and it's cool herbal alternative to levitra Economics Inc. showed that the average solar panel gets five times more energy out than was originally put in. Roughly the same “energy balance” as gasoline. 

Still, no one is satisfied with that number.

Continue Reading >>
Thousands of scientists, engineers and business people are working, right now, to increase solar's energy balance, and many have done it substantially. The simplest and most common methods include making sure that the panels are always at a 90 degree angle to the sun, increasing the life of the panels, and decreasing the amount of photovoltaic (PV) material needed in the panels.

As PV material (usually polysilicon) is energy intensive to create, a lot of folks are trying to figure out how to use less of it. One common method is to use mirrors or lenses to concentrate the low cost levitra sunlight on cialis canada a relatively small amount of polysilicon material. Additionally, a whole other branch of the solar industry is trying to make solar panels from less energy intensive materials, including the much touted copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film solar panels.

There may be some economic reason to not be an early adopter of solar, but there is certainly no doubt that they produce a lot more energy than they consume. And soon, they'll be producing even more.

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Comments (16)Add Comment
Love Love LOVE this blog!
written by Thursday, July 13, 2007
Thanks for running it!

Great question, this - I'd heard the same claim, but pretty much ignored it (considering the source). Nice to have an answer.

I'm looking to become an electrician, specializing in green-power conversions. Even after the local housing boom slows, there will be plenty of work for me; and I can feel good about it, too.

Are you familiar with micro-hydro generators?
using solar panel energy to make solar p
written by Johan Smit, July 13, 2007
and probably dumbfound the people trying to make the sums...
written by Kristina, July 13, 2007
One very exciting technology that promises to bring the cost of solar energy down considerably is currently under development by Tempronics out of Tuscon, AZ. Using the principles of heat conversion via nanometer thermotunneling, Tempronics devices can dramatically reduce the cost of converting the sun's energy into electricity. Check it out at:

Sounds reasonable - then why don't we se
written by Dave, July 17, 2007
The process uses less silicon, and energy per panel. interested in your opinion.
answer fast
written by luma, January 15, 2008
hi my name is luma and im from jordan and i want to ask you if we can buy this innovalight ?
how much it would coast us ?
and how fast can you deliver it to the middle east??
thanks alot
written by David Stupka, March 29, 2008
Are there any green home developments, where all homes sold are green homes?
% of energy produced by solar panels
written by April Renae, April 16, 2008
im doing a project and i need to know how much energy is produced by one solar panel!!!
april ;D
written by Elley, October 15, 2008
how much energy is used to produce one solar panel?? :)
written by Agustin, November 17, 2009
Is that study considering the efficiency of the solar panel? for what I understood the energy payback time was calculated using the energy insolation, but not the actual energy produced by hte panel. If anyoen has an answer i would really apreciate it
seminar paper
written by batman, February 23, 2010
hey im writing this paper on an alternate source of energy for the university. can you tell me how much does it cost to produce solar panels. can you also tell how is it better than wind and not as good as wind.
written by Jason Farmer, March 11, 2010
thanks for a great answer
Your answer needs more data
written by Jason Farmer, March 11, 2010
I'd be interested to know the number of kW needed to make a typical solar panel, and the amount of energy that panel would be likely to produce over its expected lifetime in various different spots around the globe.
written by Anish, March 29, 2011
Yes its too necessary to give a boom in sector of solar energy. All the gifted energy producers are dimnishing now and to fulfil the energy consumpion of the world, it is very necessary to develop solar enery because it is the we have unlimited
written by michael hsu, June 29, 2011
due to the fact that solar panel can't generate power at night (d'oh), you have to consider the cost of energy to make the batteries! and we know how fast the lithium batteries die and how poison are they to the mother earth!
Insolation Calculations
written by U Serman, January 10, 2012
A good explanation of the calculation is at the lowtechmagazine website, in the attached article.

solar energy
written by Malaak, May 06, 2014
how much energy is needed to produce energy in solar panels?smilies/cry.gif answer fast pleaaase

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