Generated as heat or electricity, solar power is undeniably greener than energy from fossil fuels. But how does the environmental footprint of the electricity produced by customer-generators using solar panels compare to the footprint of electricity from Hydro-Québec’s grid?
A product’s environmental footprint refers to its potential impact on the environment throughout its service life.
Photovoltaic energy and Hydro-Québec’s electricity
In terms of its greenhouse gas emissions, the electricity flowing through Hydro-Québec’s power grid has a smaller environmental footprint than any form of self-generated electrical power.
That’s the conclusion of an independent study by the International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (known as CIRAIG). It shows that the environmental footprint of the electricity in Hydro-Québec’s grid is only half that of electricity generated by customers using photovoltaic solar panels or small wind turbines.
Did you know?
The place where solar panel components (such as photovoltaic cells) are manufactured has a big impact on their environmental footprint, which varies a great deal depending on the power source used in that country.
Photovoltaic solar power emits twice as much greenhouse gas as electricity from Hydro-Québec’s grid
Source: Analyse du cycle de vie (ACV) de filières de production décentralisée d’énergie électrique à petite échelle, CIRAIG, 2013 [Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of small-scale distributed electricity generation options] (In French only).
Hydro-Québec: Over 99% clean energy—that’s hard to beat!
Over 99% of the electricity flowing through Hydro-Québec’s power grid is generated from renewable sources, making it among the cleanest in the world.
Origin of the electricity distributed by Hydro-Québec (2017)
Did you know?
The environmental footprint of panels with a 20-year service life is about 50% greater than panels with a 30-year service life.