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Sidebar: Embodied Energy of PV Modules

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In 1980, after living without electricity for five years, I bought a photovoltaic (PV) module for $275. Once the 33-watt Arco panel was hooked up to a 12-volt car battery, my kerosene bill dropped significantly. For a few hours each night, I was able to listen to a radio and operate a tiny 12-volt fluorescent light.

Twenty-nine years later, I still live off the grid. The old Arco module has required no maintenance other than occasional snow removal, and has produced electricity every day without fail for all those years. I now have 16 PV modules on my roof; when the sun shines brightly, the solar array produces about 840 watts.

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