• Question: How much energy does a solar panel need?

    Asked by Anon on 30 Jan 2017.
    • Photo: Petra Cameron

      Petra Cameron answered on 30 Jan 2017:

      I think you are asking how much energy does it take to make a solar panel? In solar energy we talk about something called the ‘energy pay back time’. That compares how much energy it takes to make a solar panel to how much energy the solar panel generates. According to the national renewable energy laboratories in America, multi-crystalline silicon solar cells have an energy pay back time of about 3 years. That means that in the first three years of operation the solar panel produces the same amount of energy as it took to manufacture the panel. Silicon panels can have lifetimes of 20-25 years which means that you still get out a lot more energy than you put in. Scientists are currently working on new types of solar cells that will (hopefully) have much lower energy pay back times.