Years Pay Back (image) DOE/Argonne National Laboratory Caption The chart shows the number of years that a solar panel must operate in order to generate enough electricity to "pay back" the energy used to make the panel. Because there are fewer energy regulations in China, panels made there use more energy, according to the study. The colors in the bars represent contributions from the different stages of making a solar panel (e.g., 'Si feedstock' represents the carbon emitted during mining and processing of raw silicon to make the panel). Credit Figure by Fengqi You et. al. Usage Restrictions None Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.