I’ve seen it claimed that solar panels (photovoltaic panels or ‘PV’s’) for producing electricity take more energy (derived from fossil fuels) to manufacture than they will produce in their lifetime.
I had suspected for quite common-sense reasons (to do with the current economics of PV’s without subsidy) that this was unlikely to be true.
A simple internet search produced this answer from the respected Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales suggesting that this claim is indeed an ‘urban myth’ and that even in the UK with current technology a panel will pay back its energy cost and its carbon debt (footprint) in manufacture very quickly and many times over in its lifetime. I would regard this source as authoritive and trustworthy.
Perhaps then we should all be taking advantage of ‘feed in tariffs’ (which do represent a considerable subsidy and investment by the government) to either invest in solar panels on our roof or accept the lower returns from the ‘free’ panels which many companies will fit if we don’t have the cash ourselves and reduce our bills as well as doing our bit to reduce our carbon footprint.