Solar panels lead to fossil fuel demand destruction

Our solar panels have been up for a month. I realized this morning that having solar panels on your roof leads to immediate fossil fuel demand destruction. Let me walk you through how I came to that conclusion.

Our year to date solar production measures 1546 kWh. Source: smilingdad

To start, I am listing some basic conversions.


Our calculation here is simple, 1546 kWh produced in one month multiplied by 1.13 pounds / kWh for the equivalent coal consumed. That’s the same as 1,746.98 lbs of coal (794.08 kg of coal). That’s a lot of coal that immediately has lost demand. This coal doesn’t need to be mined, transported, stored, and burned.

The same calculation for natural gas is 1546 kWh multiplied by 7.43 cubic feet / kWh. That gives us 11,533.16 cubic feet of natural gas saved, or 115.3316 CCF, or 40.7244 cubic meters of natural gas not burned. Again, this natural gas does not to be drilled for, sent by pipeline, stored in a large storage facility, and burned at a power plant or in our homes. Look up images of one cubic meter. It’s massive. Four adults kneeling down can sit inside one cubic meter. In one month our panels have saved almost 40 of these large volume containers.

How much Carbon Dioxide equivalent have we saved?

We look to for converting coal and natural gas into pounds per kWh of carbon dioxide saved.

  • For coal, we take 1546 kWh * 2.23 gives us 3,202.28 lbs of carbon dioxide saved. For each lb of coal burned, we can double it to approximate how much carbon dioxide is generated. This is almost 1.5 tons of C02 saved if the source was coal!
  • For natural gas, we take 1546 * 0.91 gives us 1,306.76 lbs of C02 saved.
  • For gasoline, 1 gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 20 lbs of C02. 1 gallon of gasoline is equivalent in energy to 33.6 kWh. This is about 46 gallons of gasoline saved or about 920 lbs of C02.

NASA has this fun kids graphic showing how one gallon of gasoline generates 20 lbs of carbon dioxide. It’s also our feature image.

Demand destruction of fossil fuels is key if we want to switch to a cleaner, cheaper, healthier, safer future. I’m proud that our solar panels have made an outsized impact in a short time.

With peace, hope, and love,


Published by smilingdad

My story is one of tragedy and redemption. We've made many mistakes along the way regarding our money. Our goal here is to show you how to take care of your money life long, and as much as we can, help the Earth along the way. I call it sustainable personal finance and ethical capitalism. Currently, I am a part time writer for Cleantechnica and part-time licensed financial professional, along with being a full-time dad.

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