Are Solar Panels Actually "Green"?

July 29, 2023


(I was considering having that be the entire article, but I’m being told that that would be stupid.)

For some people, the title of the article seems like a strange question. “Why wouldn’t solar be ‘green’? Isn’t it a source of renewable energy?”

However, like most things in life, the answer has a little bit of nuance to it.

Let’s dive in.

Argument Against Solar

Some people will say that solar is not actually “green” because of the carbon dioxide that is produced when making photovoltaic cells (i.e., solar panels).

I mean, think about it. You have to mine raw materials, transport them, refine and shape the materials, print out circuit boards, and more, all of which requires energy to get done.

Manufacturing solar panels
Provided by Giphy

And as the world stands, most of this energy is going to be coming from fossil fuels and thus produce carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide which otherwise wouldn’t be produced if it wasn’t for the making of the solar panels.

Similar arguments are made against electric cars, especially due to the amount of rare earth materials the batteries require and the burden on the environment those mining processes carry.

These are all fair points and you can’t really argue with that.

However, it isn’t the full picture.

Argument for Solar

The other aspect that needs to be considered is the amount of carbon dioxide offset by the solar panels.

Assuming you’d need to power your home no matter the power source, your home would be producing carbon dioxide due to the incremental fossil fuels that would need to be burned at your local power plant.

With solar panels, however, you are producing your own energy, reducing the demand on your grid system and thus lowering the total amount of carbon dioxide produced.

About 10 years ago when solar panels weren’t as efficient, it might have taken you 5 years or more to offset the carbon that was produced in the making of your solar panels.

Now, most panels will offset their own carbon footprint within 3 years and then continue to offset for decades after that.

So what you really need to consider is the lifecycle carbon of the energy source.

For solar, it rounds to 0 lbs of CO2 produced for each kWh of energy, vs 0.91 lbs for natural gas and 2.13 lbs for petroleum.

So when your only other option is using power from your local grid (powered mostly by natural gas and petroleum), solar is a clearly greener option.

The other nice aspect of solar panels is the minimal amount of rare earth minerals needed to make them, lowering their environmental impact.

What You Can Do

Everyday, more and more people what to go green with solar.

However, it is a big investment, holding many people back from pulling the trigger.

But what if I told you that you could get solar for half of what you’d pay with a traditional solar company?

Image Provided by Giphy

With DIY Solar, that’s exactly the case!

We give you the materials, engineering, and design you need to be able to install solar yourself, cutting out the middlemen and the extra costs that come with them.

“But isn’t installing solar really hard?”

Nope! It ain’t too bad actually. If you know how to use a drill and understand basic electrical safety, you should be able to install with minimal hiccups.

And if you aren't up to the task, no worries. We are now starting to offer a full install option in select states!

So start today by getting a free quote from us and feel free to reach out with questions!

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