What Is the Carbon Footprint of Solar Panels? A Closer Look

Did you know that a single acre of solar panels can prevent up to one hundred and ten metric tons of CO2 emissions? 

Many people think that solar energy produces no carbon emissions. The truth is that the manufacturing process for solar panels does require releasing carbon into the atmosphere. 

This is why, if you’re trying to figure out which energy sources are best for the environment, it’s important to know the carbon footprint of solar panels. Do you want to find out more? Keep reading, and we’ll tell you more. 

CO2 Emissions and Solar Panel Production: What You Need to Know

Since one of the main components of solar panels is silicon, it’s necessary to use high heat levels to shape this material correctly. There is therefore a significant amount of CO2 that gets released into the air when companies manufacture solar panels.

Solar panel production typically creates between forty and fifty grams of CO2 per kWh. This means that you’ll need to use your solar panels for at least three years if you want them to become carbon neutral. 

Even though this is a big number, you should understand that a coal-powered electricity source emits is about twenty times more carbon than solar panels. 

Why Do So Solar Panels Have a Carbon Footprint?

There are several important reasons why solar panels have a carbon footprint. Here are some of the most significant parts of the solar panel manufacturing process that contribute to climate change. 


Solar panels are made from many different kinds of minerals. This includes copper, lead, nickel, zinc, aluminum, and iron. Mining does not necessarily release high amounts of CO2, but it does have other negative environmental impacts. This includes erosion, water contamination, and biodiversity loss. 

The Manufacturing Process

It’s true that the process of manufacturing solar panels creates significant CO2 emissions. But the typical solar panel will have a twenty-five-year lifespan. This means that there are many ecological benefits of going solar


Solar companies produce solar panels in different parts of the world than where you probably live. They’ll therefore need to be transported to your home. This will increase your carbon footprint if you choose to go solar. 

Even though transportation creates about twenty percent of global CO2 emissions, the carbon footprint of transporting solar panels to your home is minimal. This is why you shouldn’t be worried about the environmental impact of transporting solar panels to your home. 

The Carbon Footprint of Solar Panels Is Less Than You Might Think

If you’re concerned about the carbon footprint of solar panels, it’s important you understand that they’ll become carbon neutral after three years of use. Since most solar panels have a twenty-five-year lifespan, solar energy is much more environmentally friendly than other kinds of energy such as coal and natural gas. 

If you want to learn more about reducing your carbon footprint, be sure to visit the Tech section of our website.