Energy Payback: Clean Energy from PV; National Center for Photovoltaics PV FAQs (Fact Sheet)

Research output: NRELFact Sheet

Abstract

This FAQ sheet discusses the concept of 'energy payback,' or how long a PV system must operate to recover the energy -- and associated generation of pollution and carbon dioxide -- that went into making the system in the first place. Energy payback estimates for rooftop PV systems boil down to 4, 3, 2, and 1 years: 4 years for systems using current multicrystalline-silicon PV modules, 3 years forcurrent thin-film modules, 2 years for future multicrystalline modules, and 1 year for future thin-film modules. With energy paybacks of 1-4 years and assumed life expectancies of 30 years, 87% to 97% of the energy that PV systems generate will be free of pollution, greenhouse gases, and depletion of resources.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 1999

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-520-24619

Keywords

  • carbon dioxide
  • clean energy
  • crystalline silicon (x-Si) (c-Si)
  • energy payback
  • greenhouse gases (GHG)
  • photovoltaics (PV)
  • pollution
  • thin films

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