Do the plastics and metals used in Solar panels offset the "green" benefit to our earth?
Hey Sarah, there was a complaint maybe 10 or 15 years ago that the act of building solar panels, or wind turbines, uses more energy than the device actually produces in its lifetime. Is this what you are questioning? It was posited by an oil company think tank, and had the exact effect they were hoping for, getting people who might have otherwise been environmentally minded, to question the very technology they were advocating. Think back to 1998, when a panel of board certified doctors stood shoulder to shoulder on TV with the then CEO of Phillip Morris, stating that, "There is no scientific evidence that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer." Do you believe that today? You can guess who those doctors were being paid by I'm sure. Energy required to build something is referred to as, "Embodied energy." Yes, it takes materials and energy to mine for aluminum, then ship it to the metal factory, then to the factory where the panel is made, and finally ship it to the house it's being installed at, and mining does have its own environmental problems. But it also takes energy and mining and materials to build a coal plant, or even a natural gas fired electric plant, but here is the difference. Let's say you build a 1 MW solar plant, and put it along side a 1 MW coal fired electric plant, which earns back its embodied energy first? The answer is the coal plant never does. We forget that once you build a coal, or oil, or natural gas plant, you then have to feed it coal, oil or gas for the rest of its life. The panel eats sunshine, and the wind turbine eats wind. At least the solar and wind solutions can one day get even, fossil fuel plants never do. There have been studies on reimbursement of embodied energy for renewable sources of energy, its almost impossible to quantify, but most solar and wind equipment earn back their energy in production in a range of 1.5 to 6.25 years. They never mention this when they complain about the embodied energy of a wind turbine, or how much energy it takes to build a coal plant, let alone tear it down one day, because they have already told you what they want you to think. We can think for ourselves. I'm sorry your panels only lasted 10 years, the Chinese brands are known for this. I have a mix of American, German and Japanese panels here on our array. The entire array is over 17 years old now, and not only working strong, but the warranty doesn't run out on most of them for another 8 years. There is also the fact that most of those materials are recyclable. Any good solar panel manufacturer would love to have your old defunct panels back to strip them of silicone and aluminum to make more panels, they do it quite regularly, I've just not had any to throw out yet. I did recycle my original wind turbine 19 years ago, even got a trade in value on it, the new one is still working fine today. Take care Sarah, Rudydoo
Nay will your panels save thee. Deathe shall be cheated of none.