There are many misconceptions about solar energy and we want to help set the record straight. Read on as we address the top four solar energy myths.
Myth #1: Solar panels require more energy to manufacture than they produce in their lifetime.
Fact: A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concludes that the manufacturing energy cost versus the energy production payback for solar modules is generally less than four years.
A photovoltaic (PV) power system typically provides 30 years of clean energy. With that being said, four years is a small investment. Overall, PV-systems will provide a net gain of 26 to 29 years of pollution-free and greenhouse-gas-free electrical generation.
Myth #2: Solar manufacturing results in more pollution than is offset by solar energy generation.
Fact: Operating PV systems produce no atmospheric emissions or greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, if the industry grows by the predicted 25% per year, PV in the United States will offset 10 million metric tons of CO2 per year by 2027.
10 million metric tons of CO2 per year is equivalent to the total annual increase emitted from U.S. fossil-fuel electricity generation in the United States. Solar usage can have a huge impact in one year alone.
Myth #3: Solar energy is too expensive for widespread usage.
Fact: According to a recent report from Lazard, energy from utility-scale solar plants – plants that produce electricity that feeds into the grid – decreased 86% since 2009.
PV has never been more affordable than it is right now. To put it in perspective, it takes twice the amount of money to produce electricity from coal then it does to produce with solar. The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity is now around $50 for solar power. This is drastically different from the hefty $102 per megawatt-hour that it takes to produce electricity using coal.
With the cost of solar energy continuously decreasing, solar is expected to be a leading source of energy production in the future. The United States Department of Energy predicts in the 2007-2030 Energy Outlook that 78% of the 27.4 billion kilowatt/hours that will be generated by buildings will come from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Myth #4: Photovoltaics is a cottage industry that appeals to only small, niche markets.
Fact: The U.S.- based industry itself is now approaching $1 billion per year and providing 25,000 jobs according to the 10th Annual National Solar Job Census. In the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, solar employment increased by 44%, five times faster than job growth in the overall U.S. economy.
And there is promise in the future. In the next 20 years, the PV industry in the United States is expected to grow to the $10-$15 billion level, providing 300,000 jobs by 2025.
This level of predicted growth exceeds the semiconductor industry. A shift in the market has ignited a recent growth in the PV industry. It has shifted from remote, off-grid, and consumer products to nearly 60% grid-connected, distributed power. These applications represent large and rapidly growing markets.
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