Thursday, May 23, 2013

Inconvenient questions on solar cells for Revkin's Dot-Chat today

Andy Revkin has a "dot-chat" at 1PM EST today with a solar panel salesman, and is asking for questions from readers. Here's mine to ignore:

The energy payback time for solar cells is about nine years. This is the time it takes for the energy produced by a solar cell to equal the amount of fossil fuel energy consumed in their production.

The decline in efficiency over time also adds another year or two to the energy payback time.

The required energy storage [battery] technology also further adds to the energy payback time.

Altogether, the energy payback time is close to the lifetime of a typical solar panel. 

Thus, the net energy and emission savings are close to zero, for immense cost.

Why is this a good thing?


Solar Cells are Facilities for Energy Loss


  1. Energy payback time is now 1 to 2 years. Panels degrade by about 0.7% per year, meaning they add nothing to energy payback time. Batteries are used in 5% of installations now meaning they add nothing to energy payback time. All your assumption are incorrect, as is your conclusion. Energy payback isn't the life of the panels. It's 1 to 2 years.

    1. No, it isn't. These figures are produced by solar advocates and fail to consider the fossil fuels used in the mining of rare earths and the other materials used in production, the fossil fuels used to build the solar panel plants, the cost of starting up fossil fueled plants when the sun doesn't shine, etc. etc.

      As of this article published July 2011

      The ERR is < 1

      The only reason why batteries are now used in 5% of installations is BECAUSE THOSE INSTALLATIONS ARE RELYING UPON THE FOSSIL FUELED GRID.

  2. The updated link to the EIKE post:



  5. The $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption. A review of 30,000 installations in Europe by the German solar monitoring firm Meteocontrol found 80 percent were underperforming. --Todd Woody, The New York Times, 29 May 2013