Solar power will cross a carbon threshold by 2018

Glinting solar panels have become the emblem of sustainability. Yet producing those silicon panels requires energy. So how green is solar power really? A new study shows that solar panels more than make up for the carbon that is released during their production.

Dutch researchers have found that by 2018, the solar panel industry will have created more energy than it has consumed in the past 40 years, saving more greenhouse gas emissions than were released during their production. The details are presented in the journal Nature Communications.

The team, led by researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, analyzed results from 40 life-cycle studies of photovoltaic systems conducted between 1976 and 2014. They measured total installed solar power capacity by using country-level estimates that are based on surveys from photovoltaic suppliers. They also analyzed efficiency improvements of solar…