Study Says Solar Panels Pay Off In Two to Three Years

Study Says Solar Panels Pay Off In Two to Three Years

A study from Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. has found that solar photovoltaic panels "pay back" the energy used for their production in one to three years.

The study examined the manufacture of two types of solar panels at a Siemens Solar Industries facility. Over their lifetime, the study says, the panels are expected to generate from nine to 17 times the energy required to produce them.

The study’s calculations included process energy, used in cell and module manufacturing, as well as the energy used in producing both direct and indirect raw materials. Researchers also looked to see how much users had been paying in utility bills.

Energy payback time is one metric adopted by several analysts in characterizing the energy sustainability of various technologies. It is the energy analog to financial payback, defined as the time necessary for a photovoltaic panel to generate the energy equivalent to that used to produce it.

According to a Siemens press release on the report, the estimated break-even point on the tested panels is two to three years -- meaning that over its lifetime, a Siemens solar panel generates nine to 17 times as much energy as is needed to create it. For the complete study, visit

Energy and Environmental Economics is a San Francisco-based engineering and economics consulting firm specializing in strategic planning for the electric utility industry, including public and private electric utilities, utility customers, independent power producers, and equipment and service providers.



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