What is the embodied carbon footprint of a solar panel?

Q: Can you discuss the embodied energy and natural resource use of the active systems, such as solar panels, that are necessary to achieve a “net zero” status? 

A: The embodied carbon footprint of solar panels (i.e., the carbon dioxide released by making the panel) is about equal to 18-months’ worth of the carbon footprint avoided by generating zero-carbon electricity. So, from a carbon-footprint perspective, you can think of the solar panel paying for itself in about 18 months. Financially, ours will pay for themselves in about 6 years.