The solar industry has exploded to quickly become the number one source of new electricity generation in the country, even more than natural gas and coal power. While solar has a long way to go before it becomes the top producer of electricity annually, the advancements in technology and great incentives from both the federal and California state government have made now a great time to make the switch to solar energy. However, we often hear a lot of objections to solar electricity, and it’s unsettling to know that many of them are based on myths or misunderstandings about solar power and what it can do for you. So we’re here to set the record straight—here are the top five solar energy myths and the truth about each of them.
1. Manufacturing Panels Uses More Energy than the Panels Create
It does take energy to create solar panels. Glass has to be formed and tempered, frames and hardware need to be formed, and much more. “Energy payback time” is the amount of energy a panel must create over its lifetime in order to match what was used to create it. This is an issue SunPower® has taken very seriously, and has worked consistently to reduce in order to create a long life of gainful clean energy production.
Most modern panels take less than four years to produce the amount of energy which was used to create it, which means the next 26-29 years are spent producing large quantities of clean energy direct from the sun (assuming a 30 year panel lifespan, which is roughly the industry average on a modern system). In total, this means solar panels create far more electricity over their lifetime than is used to manufacture them.
2. Solar Panels Take Up Land That Could Be Used for Other Green Initiatives
Solar energy greatly helps with the preservation of natural resources, and maintaining trees and undisturbed lands is a high-priority mission for SunPower®. First, we have taken considerable steps to advance our solar technology and create high-efficiency panels that generate more electricity while using as little space as possible. SunPower®’s Oasis solar panels produce 34% more power per acre used than conventional solar technology. This allows us to use less land to fulfill each of our customer’s needs and preserve existing resources. Second, SunPower® carefully considers where we are building our solar installations to avoid environmental impact. We only use land that has been previously disturbed, such as on marginal agricultural land, rangeland, brownfield or landfills, or areas where the land can be dual-used, such as in sheep-grazing pastures.
3. Solar Panels are Made of Toxic Materials
SunPower® gives the materials needed to manufacture its panels substantial consideration before greenlighting them for manufacturing. Every panel is carefully considered through every step of its life, including production, use, and disposal, to ensure that environmental impact is kept to an absolute minimum, including any chemicals or substances that could be toxic to humans and animals. All of our panels are lead and cadmium free, which means that our E-Series and X-Series panels do not require hazardous waste handling procedures and can be fully recycled once their useful life is finished.
We voluntarily adhere to the International Organization for Standardization’s environmental management practices, which helps us produce panels that do as little damage as possible throughout their life, and we also closely follow the European Union’s Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive. Want to know about what’s in each of our panels? We now affix a declare label on each of them to tell you exactly what it’s made of so you can know for sure what’s inside!
4. Solar Panels Use Too Much Water
We often hear this myth from people who don’t understand how a modern solar panel works. Previous solar systems were solar thermal panels, which essentially collected sunlight to heat water, turning it into steam, which was then used to turn the blades on a generator. These systems tended to be noisy, unreliable, and required a lot of maintenance, including refilling the water supply periodically to accommodate for loss into the atmosphere. Today’s solar panels are called “photovoltaic” systems, and do not use water to generate electricity at all.
Some people also point to the need to wash your panels regularly. While they’re not wrong when they say that a frequent cleaning can keep your system running at their most efficient, our panels are highly resistant to dirt, dust, and other factors. When your system does need cleaned, our cleaning robots can handle the job while using 75 percent less water than washing by hand.
5. Solar Panels Can’t Be Recycled
At SunPower®, we recognize that sustainability and renewability are not just our priorities, but they’re yours as well. So what would be the point of solar panels that couldn’t then be renewed when their life is complete? For starters, part of sustainability is durability, and our panels have an expected useful lifespan of 30 years or more. This means you will rarely need to replace your panels, and will enjoy decades of clean energy with your system.
However, when the time comes for you to replace your panels, we can help you there too. Back in 2016, we worked with SEIA to develop the first photovoltaic recycling program, which responsibly handles old panel disposal to keep them out of landfills and reduce environmental impacts as much as possible. Many panels are also constructed of recyclable materials, such as glass and aluminum, meaning portions of your panel can once again be re-used in a different application at the end of their life.
Looking to switch to solar? Call the Fresno solar panel installation experts at SunPower® by Quality Home Services today at (800) 496-3074 x102 to receive a free estimate and find out how much you could save!