Solar Panels Will Make up for Production Emissions by 2018 at the Latest

The emissions-reduction benefits of solar power more than compensate for greenhouse gasses released during production, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed data from photovoltaic systems installed between 1976 to 2014, and determined that the “break-even” point came in 2011 using realistic performance measures, but by 2018 using the most conservative estimates.

Solar installations grew at a rate of 45% per year from 1975 to 2015, while simultaneously reducing the overall environmental impact. The study found that for every doubling of installed PV capacity, energy use decreased by 12-13% and greenhouse gas footprints by 17-24%, respectively, depending on the type of silicon used in the panels. Overall, the trends show reduced cost and emissions alongside rapid growth of PV capacity.

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