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Estimates of area needed to be covered by solar panels to power all of the US using only solar are about equal to a 100 mile by 100 mile tract of land. But solar panels have a lifespan of only a few decades and need fossil fuels for their manufacturing. Was wondering why there are no solar manufacturing plants running on solar power and if such a facility will ever be feasible from a financial standpoint. How much time(in months/years) will it take for a solar plant powered by 10GW of solar panels(assume battery backup) to churn out 1 GW of solar panels?

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  • $\begingroup$ How much energy is required to produce 1 panel? $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Aug 21 '19 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ If we are engaged in solar panel manufacture, and that is part of the total budget used to determine that 10,000 square mile tract of land, then the energy needs to build more panels is in there, somewhere. But it's a good question -- it really boils down to what percentage of your solar farm needs to be dedicated to keeping your solar farm maintained. $\endgroup$ – TimWescott Aug 21 '19 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ @TimWescott you are spot on....am thinking the solar farm should be able to power the civilization while also enabling its own "reproduction" in a 30 year period (assuming that is the lifespan of the farm) $\endgroup$ – user221238 Aug 21 '19 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ No, at present, solar is still slightly in the red. The industry consumes more power than all of its products produce. That is expected to crossover next year. Solar is most appropriate where electricity is expensive. Production is appropriate where electricity is cheap. pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es3038824 $\endgroup$ – Phil Sweet Aug 21 '19 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ @PhilSweet So you should manufacture solar panels in Norway where there is lots of hydro power, and then transport them a few thousand miles to somewhere with more sun... Or maybe it's not quite so simple. Also a 6-year-old forecast of break-even next year seems like it needs an update to the forecast! $\endgroup$ – alephzero Aug 22 '19 at 1:06

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