We all know that solar power generated by solar cells is one of the cleanest energy source we can tap into. But for the solar technology to get to where it is today, it has required huge amount of energy, ironically most of which from fossil fuels.
The good news is that clean electricity from all the installed solar panels has just surpassed the energy that has gone into the industry’s growth, this is according to recent research done in Stanford.
To generate solar power, enormous amount of energy is needed. The basic component of a solar panel is polysilicon - its manufacturing requires silica rock to be melted at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, usually using electricity from fossil fuels. But the significant growth of solar technology in past decade has allowed more efficient manufacturing and for the solar panel themselves to generate solar power more efficiently.
Today much lesser silicon is used and wasted in the manufacturing process. With more efficient solar cells, fewer solar panels are required to produce significant amount of power.
Energetic costs and benefits are necessary for any new technology, at the current development rate, solar power could produce 10% of the world’s electricity by 2020. The same analysis is currently applied to energy storage and wind power.