How much silicon is there, in kg, in a 1kw panel? Thanks!


Fthenakis has published more on the subject than anyone, to my knowledge. His LCA lists a whole bunch of factors, but it's roughly 1.5kg of silicon in the PV itself.

But a module also has 16.1kg of tempered low-iron glass for a 210 Wp panel (p32). Glass is 60-80% silica, and silica is about half and half silicon and oxygen by weight. So there's 5kg - 6.5kg of silicon in the glass.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a 1kW panel - it would be 5-7 square metres in size.

However, we can consider 1kW to be a useful unit - typically about five panels' worth - and that, very roughly speaking, would be roughly 40kg of silicon.

This isn't a sustainability issue though: not only are silicon cells recyclable, but the earth's crust is about 10% silica - it's one of the most abundant compounds on the planet.

  • The discussion re silicon prices has been moved to chat: further discussion here will be deleted. Please use chat for discussion – EnergyNumbers Apr 26 '16 at 6:56
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    I'd have to add a caveat to the very informed answer above. There is a difference between the solar silicon and the silica in the glass that is attached to the silicon. The answer given adds up both partial weight of the glass, which just happens to also be made of silica, and the silicon people typically refer to, which is a much smaller amount attached to the glass. – Joshua Dec 29 '17 at 8:40

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