Energy Costs of Constructing Solar Assets

This data-file quantifies the energy costs of manufacturing solar panels, based on 10 studies and prior projects.

We see the average solar project requiring 5MWH/kW, with a 2.3-year energy payback, a c10x energy-return on energy-invested and CO2-intensity of 90kg/boe (for contrast, average oil is c440kg/boe and average gas is c350kg/boe).

The data-file contains calculations and data on different, individual studies, and estimates the net impact of solar on fossil fuel demand – past and present – after reflecting the net energy costs of solar manufacturing.

Comparable data for wind projects is linked here.

Note: these estimates are aggregated across different technical  papers from the past 3-10 years. However, in October-2022, we constructed our own, granular bottom-up estimates for the embedded energy of a solar project. Interestingly, we think the numbers are 30-40% lower, due to improved manufacturing techniques.

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