PV Panels an Energy Sink

[1] Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert J. Hopkirk 2016: Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation: Energy Policy 94 (2016) 336–344

The above paper was reviewed below.


A new study by Ferroni and Hopkirk [1] estimates the ERoEI of temperate latitude solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to be 0.83. If correct, that means more energy is used to make the PV panels than will ever be recovered from them during their 25 year lifetime. A PV panel will produce more CO2 than if coal were simply used directly to make electricity. Worse than that, all the CO2 from PV production is in the atmosphere today, while burning coal to make electricity, the emissions would be spread over the 25 year period. The image shows the true green credentials of solar PV where industrial wastelands have been created in China so that Europeans can make believe they are reducing CO2 emissions (image credit Business Insider).

The abstract of the paper says.

Many people believe renewable energy sources to be capable of substituting fossil or nuclear energy. However there exist very few scientifically sound studies, which apply due diligence to substantiating this impression. In the present paper, the case of photovoltaic power sources in regions of moderate insolation is analysed critically by using the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI, also called EROI). But the methodology for calculating the ERoEI differs greatly from author-to-author. The main differences between solar PV Systems are between the current ERoEI and what is called the extended ERoEI (ERoEI EXT). The current methodology recommended by the International Energy Agency is not strictly applicable for comparing photovoltaic (PV) power generation with other systems. The main reasons are due to the fact that on one hand, solar electricity is very material-intensive, labour-intensive and capital-intensive and on the other hand the solar radiation exhibits a rather low power density

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