The environmental offset of solar power

December 8, 2020 | 3min read

Everyone knows that solar and other renewable technologies have been developed to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But what is the impact? What is the environmental offset of solar power? How much carbon do you really save when you decide to ditch the high utility bills for solar panels? Thanks to the fact that your solar system will be generating safe clean electrical power for decades, the environmental offset of your solar system is a lot higher than you might think.

Solar power versus coal

Coal is the dirtiest and most expensive of all energy sources that we use to generate electricity. But what happens when solar panels are manufactured in plants that use coal-fired electricity? Is it worth it? The answer is an unequivocal yes! It takes on average three years for a solar panel to generate all of the electricity used to manufacture it. Solar panels last a lot longer than three years. For the remaining 22+ years of the panels’ life, the energy they generate is carbon negative. The actual carbon payback time will vary by where you live. The sunniest places will have the shortest payback period, but solar power goes carbon negative in all 50 states.

How much carbon does solar power offset?

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, through the second quarter of 2020, the US generated more than 85 Gigawatts of electricity using solar power. That amount of power offset 96 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The good news according to the EPA is that greenhouse gas emissions leveled off in 2018 and have begun to decline. In 2018 electricity generation accounted for 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The Energy Information administration estimates that 17.6% of all electricity generated in the US comes from renewable sources. The bulk of that power comes from wind and hydroelectric, with 72 Billion kilowatt-hours or about 1.7% coming from commercial solar power. Small scale solar power, which includes residential solar power, generated 35 billion kilowatt hours of power. 

How much carbon is offset by solar power per kilowatt hour

According to, solar panels offset 50 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of power produced. The average solar equipped home has roughly a 5-kilowatt-hour system. If you averaged just 5 hours of electricity production per day, that means a 5-kilowatt system would offset about 250,000 grams, or 250 kilograms, of carbon every day. That’s equal to 551 pounds, or roughly one ton of carbon offset for every 4 days of solar power production.

Solar power offsets carbon emissions and high utility bills

Solar power is a set-it-and-forget-it solution to greenhouse gas emissions. You can offset roughly a ton of carbon every four days while saving money on high utility bills. Solar just makes sense no matter how you look at it. You get to do the right thing and save money on your utility bills. When you go solar with Freedom Forever, you get 25 years of reliable electricity production and get to offset carbon emissions with confidence thanks to our 25-year performance guarantee.

Ready to go solar? Call us 800-685-1850 or click below to get started.