What Is the Energy Payback Period of San Diego Solar Panels?

In a previous post, we discussed the environmental benefits of solar.  Once installed on your rooftop, your photovoltaic (PV) system emits zero pollution.  And over the 25 years that comes standard with most San Diego solar panels, your installation will help offset more than 250,000 pounds of CO2.

But as green as solar is – it’s not 100% environmentally neutral.  After all, it takes energy to produce the panels.

We’ve already explored the financial payback period of San Diego solar installations – i.e. how long does it take for the electricity bill savings to fully cover the upfront costs of installing your system.  The exact figures vary from installation to installation, but in a region like San Diego, the average financial payback period is between 4 and 6 years for residential solar PV systems.

But what is the energy payback period?

How long does it take for the clean energy produced to fully cover the fossil fuel energy needed to manufacture today’s solar panels?

Let’s review.

San Diego Solar Panels – How Long to Energy Neutrality?

According to the US Department of Energy, the energy payback period is as little as 4 years for standard multi-crystalline silicon PV panels.

This incredibly low figure includes mining, extraction, fabrication, and transportation.

That’s pretty impressive when you think about it.

It takes only 4 years to become energy neutral.  Every year thereafter, your panels generate clean, non-polluting energy to power your home or business – for the next 21 to 36 years.

For free.

And in a region like San Diego that is blessed with unusually high solar radiation (i.e. sunshine), it’s possible that the energy payback period is even shorter.

So Are Your San Diego Solar Panels 100% Green?

It’s worth noting that despite all the amazing environmental benefits of solar panels, there are ecological costs:

  • most panel manufacturers use fossil fuel during the production process
  • we must clear trees to extract the solar panel materials
  • retired installations can become hazardous waste if left un-recycled

So to be fair, solar does leave a carbon footprint.

But the alternative is much much worse.  Continued reliance on fossil fuel to power our cities is an incredibly wasteful and destructive practice – one that pollutes our air, water, and bodies.

At Sunline Energy, we believe the choice is easy.

By installing solar panels today, you can dramatically reduce your environmental impact and take proactive steps towards preserving the planet for future generations.

And this transition is actually more affordable than what you currently pay to your local utility company every month.

If you’re ready to learn more about solar, contact us today for a free consultation.  Our team is happy to answer any questions you might have.