The sun rises daily, supplying the earth with trillions of megawatts worth of energy. Unfortunately, most of this energy goes to waste, with only a fraction harnessed for industrial and commercial use.
As the world grapples with the effects of greenhouse gases and climate change from fossil fuels, the cry for a shift to clean energy is on.
Many companies have joined the bandwagon of sustainability to save our planet, and solar energy is a major alternative to fossil fuels.
Based on the fuss around solar energy and its friendliness to the environment, we can assume it has many advantages. So, what are these advantages? And does solar energy have any disadvantages?
This article will discuss the solar energy advantages and disadvantages.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy? Consider the summary in the table below:
|Renewable sources of energy||High initial cost|
|Reduces costs of electricity||Not all roofs are suitable for solar energy.|
|Low maintenance costs||Solar energy storage is relatively expensive|
|Diverse application||Solar energy might require lot of space|
If you are interested in exploring Solar Energy And Fossil Fuels and how they differ, I wrote an article discussing what fossil fuels are and their pros and cons. I encourage you to check it out for more details.
The Workings Of Solar Energy
We know that the heat from the sun is good for our bodies and plants. So, how is solar energy harnessed? One thing that comes to mind is solar panels.
The solar panel has a layer of silicon cells, a glass casing covered by a special film, a metal frame, and wiring. Most factories that utilize solar energy combine an array of panels on the rooftop or large outdoor spaces.
Sun rays hit the solar panel cells (photovoltaic cells), and the PV absorbs this light during the day. Each PV has a thin semiconductor made from two silicon layers. Since one layer is negatively charged and the other is positively charged, they create an electric field.
As the light energy from the sun hits the photovoltaic solar cell, it charges the cells, thus loosening electrons from the atoms in the semiconductor.
The electronic field sets the loose electrons into motion to create a direct electric current. However, direct current is not the electricity used in homes.
So, how is solar energy converted to alternating current (or AC)? You can use an inverter to convert DC electricity to alternating current electricity. With modern solar systems, you can configure one inverter to handle the entire system or use individual microinverters behind the solar panels.
After converting solar energy from DC to AC electricity, the power can be distributed through your home electrical wiring to power your appliances. It works similarly to electricity generated through the grid by the local power companies.
Furthermore, solar panels can work together with the traditional power company, which means that if the solar energy fails due to unfavorable weather, you can turn to the power grid.
You can also store excess energy using batteries, especially when you are not home. This stored energy can be used at night or during unfavorable weather conditions.
What Are The Advantages Of Solar Energy
When you Google the strength of solar energy, you will find many resources that have discussed this subject.
This article adds to the previous voices that encourage a shift to solar energy for the future of our planet.
1- Solar Energy Is a Renewable Source Of Energy
Unlike fossil fuels that are extracted in specific locations and can be depleted with time, solar energy is a renewable energy source. You can harness solar energy anywhere if the sun is shining.
Since the sun is here to stay for as long as the earth exists, you can use solar energy without fear of depletion. The earth will not run out of the sun’s radiation!
Some scientists estimate that the earth will continue to enjoy the sun’s heat for 5 billion years, which means solar energy is here to stay.
2- Solar Energy Reduces Electricity Bills
Recently, power bills have been rising, and households are filling the pain. The cost of living has continued to rise in the recent past.
And with the biting cold during winter and scorching heat in the summer, electricity bills for heating and cooling living spaces have skyrocketed.
How can you lower your power bills? That is where solar energy comes in. supplementing your energy needs with electricity from solar systems will significantly reduce your energy bills.
How much of your bills you can save depends on the size of the solar system and your heat usage.
For instance, if your business shifts to commercial solar panels, you can cover a huge chunk of electricity bills.
3- Diverse Applications
You can utilize energy from solar panels for various purposes. For example, you can use solar energy to generate electricity without a traditional power grid. And you can also use solar energy to distill water in areas with no clean water and power grid.
Modern technology has made it easy to install solar panels, with some replacing traditional roofing materials.
Therefore, you can use your roofing budget and invest in solar panels so that each single on the roof is generating electricity.
Are you looking for solar energy-powered lighting to add to your backyard, wedding or Christmas party, garden, or swimming pool? Check out these Top 11 Solar Powered Led Strip Lights For Stunn Decoration.
4- Low Maintenance Costs
Solar panels do not require regular maintenance. You should only keep them clean by wiping dust ad debris off their surfaces a few times a year.
However, if you are cautious about your safety when cleaning your solar systems, you can hire the services of a reputable and specialized cleaning company to do the job for you.
Most manufacturers provide their customers with a 20–25-year warranty on solar panels, which means they are long-lasting.
Maintenance cost is also kept low because the system has no moving parts, which could have contributed to wear and tear. You will only need to change the inverter after 5-10 years.
Changing the inverter is important because it continuously converts solar energy to electricity and heat. Besides the inverter, you will also pay attention to the cables to ensure maximum efficiency.
5- Technology Development
The solar power industry is taking advantage of technology to expand. The industry will continue to improve with intensity with technological advancements.
Scientists are considering innovations in nanotechnology and quantum physics. And these innovations will enhance the effectiveness of solar panels.
6- Lucrative Tax Incentives
Some governments offer tax holidays and rebates to individuals or companies that have installed solar systems in a bid to support the green initiative. For instance, New York State provides a $5,000 tax credit to homeowners who have installed solar panels (About 25% of any qualified solar energy system equipment costs, and it is limited to $5,000)
These incentives are easy for homeowners to register a return on investment from the initial solar power expenditure.
Solar energy could be about 40% of the U.S electricity supply by 2035 and 45% by 2050 and employ about 1.5 million people in the process, according to a study issued by the DOE solar energy.
Additionally, solar systems have created jobs for many people. However, you should not wait to install a solar system in the future since these incentives often have expiry dates.
7- Solar Energy Is Environmentally-Friendly
Many companies and households across the globe are fascinated by environmentally-friendly ways of consumption. Solar energy is an ideal way to go green and support the environment.
Unlike fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, solar energy does not spew dangerous gases to the environment since it uses the sun to generate electricity. You can minimize your carbon footprint by installing a solar system.
How About The Disadvantages of Solar Energy?
Solar energy faces several problems that make it lag. What are some drawbacks of this sterling source of renewable energy?
8- Solar Energy Has High Initial Cost
Although the prices of solar systems have reduced tremendously over the last decade, installing them is still not cheap. The cost of these panels is considerably high because you will reduce your energy bill for the next 25+ years.
While you will greatly save by installing solar panels, not everybody can afford the initial investment.
9- Getting Permission Might Be Time-Consuming
Before installing your solar system, you may be required to seek necessary permission from the local government offices. Getting government approvals can take a toll on the project.
The bureaucracy of obtaining a permit can be discouraging and costly for some people unless you hire professionals to deal with government officials.
10- It Depends On Weather Conditions
Solar energy relies on the sun’s rays to generate electricity, which means you may produce limited or no electricity on a cloudy or rainy day. If the cloud is dense throughout the day, your solar panels may produce less electricity to satisfy limited home usage.
You can overcome this problem by storing electricity in solar batteries, but they require huge space, which most people do not have.
11 – Not All Roofs Are Suitable For Solar Panel Installation
Is your home suitable for solar panels? You need a space on the roof, good orientation, direct access to sunlight from the top, and adequate materials to install solar panels on the roof.
For instance, you need a large south-facing roof with direct access to sun rays to maximize your solar energy harvesting.
However, if your roof is west-facing and surrounded by tall trees, you may not produce enough energy for your home or business.
Does Solar Energy Cause Pollution?
Solar energy does not generate pollution or greenhouse gases. Using solar energy can positively and indirectly affect the environment. Solar power is energy from the sun converted into thermal or electrical energy. Even though solar energy is a little unpopular, it is the most abundant, cleanest, renewable energy source available.
And the United States is known to be the richest solar resource in the world (Source: Solar Energy Industries Association (seia))
Solar energy is worth it as its pros overweight its cons. Solar power is better for the environment and your pockets as you can also earn money by selling back your excess energy to the grid.
While costs have come down over the past years, installing and maintaining solar panels can be pretty expensive. Solar panels are best suited for homes with plenty of sun exposure throughout the year.