Although solar electricity is pollution-free, PV systems require a certain amount of energy, which must be ‘reimbursed’ before they can be considered as renewable and clean. This is “embodied energy”. An assessment from the International Energy Agency concluded in mid 2006 that roof-top solar PV systems recover their energy content (from manufacturing and recycling) within 1.6 to 1.8 years in Australia. That figure has since seen improvement.
Once they have reimbursed their initial energy input, roof-top PV systems can avoid the emission of 40 tonnes of CO2. Thia depends on their location and on the local electricity mix available. Roof-top PV systems in Australia during their 30 year lifespan can expect to produce around 17 times the amount of energy needed for manufacture, installation and dismantling.
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