Current manufacturing processes of solar panels are actually pretty bad. They require mining for materials and production similar to that of microchips, which was never designed to be eco-friendly. The manufacture of a monocrystalline silicon solar cell with an area of one square meter releases 55 grams of carbon dioxide in the US; on the lower end, a thin-film cell releases 25 grams in the US. Assuming we will continue to bring those numbers down as research advances, a big fat zero grams is the amount of emissions we can shoot for optimally.
Anything that can be manufactured in a way that is more environmentally friendly is beneficial. Environmentally friend includes the production process and the materials used in production. Solar panels are great for the environment because they are taking the place of the electricity that is created in not environmentally friendly ways.
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