A new scientific study shows it takes years to payback the energy used in solar electric devices. EROI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) says it takes energy – mining, drilling, refining, transporting, installing, maintenance, and replacement parts – to make the devices necessary to capture solar energy.
Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution: The Energy Return on Investment by Prieto, Pedro A., Hall, Charles 2013.
This book presents the first complete energy analysis of a large-scale, real-world deployment of photovoltaic (PV) collection systems representing 3.5 GW of installed, grid-connected solar plants in Spain. Prieto and Hall conclude that the EROI of solar photovoltaic is only 2.45, very low despite Spain’s ideal sunny climate. Germany’s EROI is probably 20 to 33% less (1.6 to 2), due to less sunlight and efficient rooftop installations.
“Solar advocates can learn from this analysis . . . “ Not looking at the reality of EROI “is not good science and leads to wasted money and energy that could have been better spent preparing more wisely for declining fossil fuels in the future.”
This study does not detail the environmental destructive mining, toxic chemicals or air and water pollution necessary to get the materials for manufacturing and installing solar devices. It is the sun not the devices that is renewable, green and sustainable.
Sometimes the truth doesn’t set you free; it simply creates denial for short-term fun or profit.
Invest in solar now while we still have the fossil fuels from fracking, deep water drilling, Canadian tar sands and mountain top removal for coal. Then we can have the massive trucks, large refineries, huge manufacturing facilities for glass, aluminum, copper, and photovoltaic cells that are necessary for these high tech, temporary solutions. Don’t let true science or concern about the earth’s future stand in your way.