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This is a little more complicated than it looks, because there are many technologies, and many levels of efficiency.

Carbon footprints are rated according to the total greenhouse gas cost during the lifetime of the object. Different greenhouse gasses have different effects, so the solar footprint has to be rated on a basis that is uniform. The basis is carbon dioxide, or CO2. Also, the benefit has to be standardized, and it is easy to understand power delivery in terms of kilowatt hours. Carbon footprints can be conveniently rated in grams CO2 equivalentper kilowatt hour (g CO2e/kWh).

Most efficient, and the lowest carbon footprint of just about any technology, is solar thermal. It seems to have a carbon footprint of 5 to 10 g CO2e/kWh.

Newer solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies are rated between 23.6 and about 40 g CO2e/kWh.

Concentrated solar thermal, which is especially interesting because the energy is stored as heat to be converted into hot water later, is rated as about 40 to 45 g CO2e/kWh.

Old PVs are rated at about 105 g CO2e/kWh.

By way of comparison, hydro and wind are rated at about 12 to 20 g CO2e/kWh. Nuclear is rated at about 65 to 180 g CO2e/kWh. Combined cycle natural gas is 455 g

CO2e/kWh. Oil is about 900 g CO2e/kWh, and coal 1000 g CO2e/kWh.

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โˆ™ 2010-03-21 20:37:39
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Q: What is the carbon footprint of solar power?
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