How much carbon does the average solar system save?

The answer to this question is strongly dependent on where you live. Since you use your solar system to offset the need for conventional generation it really depends what conventional generation is used.

For example, in France the primary energy source is Nuclear power which actually produces very little carbon dioxide compared to other common forms of generation. So the carbon offset of PV systems in France is actually relatively small.

However, in Australia the primary fuels for generators are coal and natural gas.

Carbon Dioxide emissions from generators of this nature are as follows (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration):

Fuel Type Kg of CO2 emitted per kWh
Coal (Bituminous) 0.94
Natural Gas 0.55

Note that these figures do not take into account the carbon expenditure required to mine the resources.

The average residential solar system is just over a 2kW system but for multiplicities sake we’ll round it off to a flat 2kW.

Given this, the average annual energy yield from a 2kW system is approximately 3200 kWh. Note that this will vary strongly between states, as the solar resource is very different depending on your location.

Therefore, the average solar system in Australia will prevent between 1.75 – 2.05 tonnes of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere per year, depending on the mix of coal and gas generation it is offsetting.

To calculate your own approximate carbon offset you can use the table below.

All values are given for a 1 kW PV system (1 kW of panels matched to 1 kW inverter).

To get your own carbon dioxide offset annually or over a 15 year period just multiply the values by the size of your system.

City Kg of Carbon Dioxide offset annually Kg of Carbon Dioxide offset per 15 years
Adelaide Min: 825 – Max: 1,410 Min: 12,375 – Max: 21,150
Brisbane Min: 825 – Max: 1,410 Min: 12,375 – Max: 21,150
Canberra Min: 825 – Max: 1,410 Min: 12,375 – Max: 21,150
Darwin Min: 960- Max: 1,645 Min: 14,438 – Max: 24,675
Hobart Min: 688 – Max: 1,175 Min: 10,313 – Max: 17,625
Melbourne Min: 743 – Max: 1,269 Min: 11,138 – Max: 19,035
Perth Min: 880 – Max: 1,504 Min: 13,200 – Max: 22,560
Sydney Min: 770 – Max: 1,504 Min: 11,550 – Max: 19,740

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Beginners Guide to Solar Power

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Includes detailed explanations and diagrams of the various types of solar systems and their parts, solar battery storage systems, Government incentives, expected ROI periods, finance, energy saving tips and more!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.