As we strive to create a greener planet, awareness about the lowered carbon footprint as a result of widespread shift to solar has become a hot topic in the world of renewable technology. In general, solar panels last over 20 years, keeping a significant amount of carbon out of the atmosphere.

Solar panels are built to generate electricity by converting the energy from the sun by using the solar cells that solar panels are made of. Solar panels are made up of polysilicon, metal, and glass. A solar panel’s solar cells, the photovoltaic (PV) component of the solar PV panel that creates electricity, is made up of silicon as well. Most of the solar panel is made up of PV cells which are then covered by glass and a back sheet for protection. These layers are held together by a metal frame that can be fitted to a solar racking for installing it on a roof.

Solar cells act as semiconductors and are made from monocrystalline silicon and boron. Silicon and boron are the elements that make them photovoltaic – giving them the ability to convert sunlight into electricity.

Within the silicon cell wafers, there is a negative charge and positive layer. The negative layer has extra electrons, or the element that conducts electricity, and the positive layer has space for the electrons to go. Each solar panel also has a junction box on the back of it. This box is what holds and protects the important wiring that carries electricity to the inverter.

When the sun’s photon energy hits the panel, the intense energy forces these electrons to move from the negative to the positive layer. This movement is what generates an electric field, and thus electricity.

This electricity needs somewhere to go to be usable. Cue the rest of the solar system, from the wiring to the solar inverter.

There are two types of solar panels being manufactured today-

  • Monocrystalline
  • Polycrystalline

Both types of these solar panels help significantly in reducing our carbon footprint. However, it cannot be ignored that the manufacturing of both these types of solar panels does leave a certain amount of carbon footprint.

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most commonly used solar panels installed across Australia in the current times. The solar cells of monocrystalline panels have a distinct black colour and are associated with the shiny, sleek look of premium solar panels. The manufacturing process of monocrystalline panels involves moulding a huge silicon block. Then, you slice small wafers from the block which are then fixed onto a solar panel.

Polycrystalline solar cells are also made from silicon. However, the manufacturing process is different. Instead of coming from a silicon block, polycrystalline cells are created by melting silicon crystals together. This process uses a lot of electricity. So, when we consider the solar carbon footprint, we must consider the emissions created during this process. It can therefore be concluded that monocrystalline panels emit much less carbon footprint than polycrystalline solar panels. Therefore, for the environmentally conscious monocrystalline should be the number one choice when deciding to transition to solar energy.

Around 50g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour is produced during the first years of operating a solar energy system. The solar panel’s carbon footprint is roughly 20 times less than the carbon output of coal-powered electricity sources. As a result, your carbon footprint will decrease as soon as you install solar power in your home.

However, you’ll need to have solar panels in operation for three years to become carbon neutral, paying off their carbon debt. Then, after three years of use, your overall carbon footprint will reduce further, as the system will remain carbon neutral for the rest of its lifespan.

Contact SunMate Solar today for a free quote on your very own solar power system and begin lowering your carbon footprint and playing your part in saving the environment.