14 Benefits of Solar Energy and Their 11 Drawbacks

Before we even start on the benefits of having solar energy, let’s recap on the basics of solar power.

Solar Power

Solar power is the conversion of solar energy indirectly by using concentrated solar power or directly using photovoltaics or a combination of both to produce electricity. The concentrated method uses mirrors or lenses to focus sun rays into a small beam.

It uses a tracking system that focuses large concentrations of sunlight into one direction, making it possible to produce electricity.

On the other hand, photovoltaic solar power uses cells called photovoltaics to convert sunlight into electricity using the effects of photovoltaics. They were initially used singly as a source of electricity for medium-sized applications.

The application used a single off-grid rooftop solar system to power small and medium homes with electricity. Concentrated commercial solar panels were first discovered in the 1980s. 

The immense concentrated solar power in the world is in California in the Mojave Desert. It is called the 392 MW Ivanpah. Decreasing solar electricity cost has enabled grid solar PV systems to grow in millions, making the utility-scale photovoltaic power stations build even more solar systems.

Renewable energy has, therefore, become inexpensive, making it a low carbon modern technology. 

The largest photovoltaic power station is the 850 MW Longyangxia Dam Solar Park. It’s located in the china republic. The International Energy Agency has projected that in 2050 most of the world’s electricity consumption will come with concentrated solar power and photovoltaic solar power. 

They are the most widely used renewables today, and that percentage might go up by 11 and 16 percent for both concentrated solar and photovoltaic solar, respectively. And that means a lot of solar installations would be in India and the china republic.

Solar power has been overgrowing at 35% per annum, and in 2017 solar power provided 1.7% of the world’s electricity. The unsubsidized cost of electricity from solar power is around $43 per MWh in 2018 alone. Let us have a look at some of the benefits of solar panels.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels
Solar Panels

Solar panels generate electricity by absorbing sunlight directly to the photovoltaic cells, which convert the sun’s energy into electricity. It is also known as Direct current (DC). 

The photovoltaic cells are available in different wat and voltages. Photovoltaic modules are packaged and connected using photovoltaic arrays, generating and supplying solar electricity for residential and commercial applications. The heating water system is another most common solar energy application besides solar panels.

Solar Energy Advantages

Solar Energy Advantages
Solar Energy Advantages

Sustainable

The fact that solar energy is renewable and abundant means that it is also sustainable. It is sustainable to meet today’s needs and cater to the future without compromise. Future generations will still be able to use solar energy to meet their daily needs. In other words, that means that no matter how much we consume of solar energy, it will still be able to sustain us.

Renewable

Compared to non-renewable energy, solar energy can never run out, and that has made solar energy one of the widely used sources of energy today. Coal, fossil fuels, and nuclear are only used once, and once it’s depleted, you can never use it again.

If the sun is still alive and shining, we will always have solar energy. According to NASA, the sun will still be alive in the next 6.5 billion years to come, so we should never worry about ourselves.

Solar Energy Is Non-Partisan

Solar is not just for the rich, the hippies, or the less fortunate. Solar covers a whole range of spectrum from governments to schools and even individuals. It covers all kinds of demographics.

Policies that support both democrats and republicans concerning solar energy have been passed with no doubt. Solar comes with a lot of financial benefits and protects the environment for harmful toxins.

Reduced Carbon Emission

The United States has for years tried to protect the universe from carbon emissions and the introduction of solar energy as a source of powering our daily lives, we can say that we are heading towards the right direction.

The environment needs to be protected from the harmful and toxic gasses emitted using other energy sources like nuclear and fuel. 

Solar energy is clean and does not harm the environment. Solar energy does not produce carbon dioxide, which has an impact on the natural environment.

The number one advantage that solar energy brings is that it benefits our environment and prevents humans from using fossil fuels. That will help many countries keep a healthy atmosphere and a clean water supply free from toxins. 

The United states are establishing independence, freeing us from relying heavily on fossil fuel producers, which will reduce the overall emission of non-renewable energy. Solar energy has become a trendy global resource as the world tries to look for a more cost-effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. That means that people have more reason to celebrate Earth Day every fourth of July.

Shared Solar

Many Americans have serious problems when it comes to installing solar panels on their roof. Almost 1/5 of homeowners have problems with shading, ownership issues, or insufficient space.

That means that many cannot easily install solar panels. But the introduction of shared solar means that many homeowners can now subscribe to a community solar garden, which will provide electricity to your home even if you do not have a solar panel on top of your roof.

Reduced Electricity Costs

Homeowners can now sell excess electricity produced from solar energy, thanks to the feed-in tariff (FIT), or the net metering. If you have more electricity than you can consume, you can share it with your neighbors using the metering system and, of course, at a reduced fee. That means many homeowners can reduce their electricity bills when they go solar. 

Having many solar panels on top of your roof has saved many Americans $100 by saving on their monthly electricity bills. Hawaii alone saves $64,000 after twenty years on average. Many people opt to sell some of their excess electricity from solar energy to purchase more solar panels.

Abundant

You can never imagine the potential of solar energy. It is beyond our imaginations. The world receives 120,000 terawatts of sunlight or solar radiation, which is more than what the entire world can consume. That is 20,000 times more powerful than the earth receives daily.

Good Availability

Solar energy is available to everyone, more especially countries that are closest to the equator. Let us have an example of Germany; it is one of the countries with the highest capacity when it comes to solar power worldwide.

Many Applications

Solar energy can be used in many ways and purposes. It can be used to power satellites in space, distill water in Africa, and provide electricity in places that lack grid connections. 

People often refer to solar energy as “The People’s Power” because of how easy it is to deploy solar panels, which produce electricity for the people. Both Photovoltaic and solar thermal panels can produce enough electricity to be used commercially and individually. Companies like Sharp have even gone ahead to make solar-powered windows, showing you that renewable energy is very versatile.

Government Support

The availability of rebates from states and governments on both utility scales has made many homeowners go solar. Government inclusion means that you can buy a solar panel at a much-reduced price than what they used to be there before.

You can get a residential photovoltaic solar panel at a reduced price of even 50% off. In 2008 the US government provided a 30% tax credit on all solar panels with no upper limit. Your home might also be eligible for rebates and other grants.

Silent

Solar panels do not have moving parts. All they need is sunlight, and they are suitable to operate. The PV solar panels are not associated with noise in any way. They can only compare to turbines, which also use wind and are silent.

Low Maintenance

A lot of solar power systems today do not require a lot of maintenance. All you need to do is clean your residential solar panel twice a year, and it will operate like a new one. Many companies that manufacture solar panels give a 20 to 25 years warranty, which means your solar panel can operate at almost no maintenance fee.

Technology is Improving

With the increase in nanotechnology and quantum physics, solar powering systems will, in the future, be able to produce even more electricity at a reduced cost. Technology is changing every day, and that has made the solar industry even think outside the box and develop more sophisticated solar systems.

Your Home Value Improves

Millions of people want to use solar energy, but they do not understand what it takes to install one. It comes with a lot of benefits when you finally have a solar panel installed in your house.

Once you have solar panels installed in your house, even if you want to sell that house one day, you will sell it at a much higher price than when you bought it. All because it has a solar system installed in it. That only shows you how much value the solar system brings to your life.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Expensive

Is solar energy that expensive? Expensive is a fundamental question that many people who use or intend to use the solar system ask themselves. Some materials that are used to make solar systems are expensive.

The driving force is rooted in politics. Solar energy has been incentivized compared to other sources of energy in the market. The United states have always provided incentives to all forms of energy sources apart from solar energy.

Solar panels have become cheap today compared to other forms of energy, which is all possible because of the government’s incentives.

Energy Storage Is Expensive

If you have a solar panel installed in your house, you will need to buy other utilities to make its operation possible. These utilities include batteries. Batteries are essential for storing solar energy, but you will have to spend extra pounds to have a fully functional solar system. Luckily enough, solar electricity is mostly used when the sunlight is on the peak, and that is when a lot of electricity is produced.

Exotic Materials

When it comes to the production of solar systems, it usually comes at a cost. The materials used to make the thin-film solar cells are so far the most expensive. They are rare to find, and they are based on copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium telluride.

Pollution

Even though solar power is environment friendly, some manufacturing processes will lead to emission of greenhouse gas.

During solar panels production, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride are emitted. That causes damage to the atmosphere.

Installation of the panels and transportation has also been found to cause pollution. Even though nothing comes without a fault, solar power is still by far the best when it comes to conserving the environment.

Requires Space

When it comes to real estate, watt per square meter or power density is critical to keep in mind. It will determine the amount of power derived at a given time in a particular area. A low power density means that you will need too much real estate to provide power at a reasonable price.

The global power density when it comes to solar radiation is 170W/m squared. Not compared to gas, oil, and nuclear power, that is so far more than any other renewable energy.

Land Use

Another primary concern for solar energy is that it consumes many lands inhabited by humans and wildlife.

Taking up significant land can cause land degradation in the long run. Even though solar panels can be installed in existing buildings or apartments, large-scale utility PV systems will require a lot of space that can go up to 10 acres, and mega projects can take even more space, up to 16.5 acres.

Intermittency

You can only use solar energy when the sun is out, which is one of the hindering factors for solar energy. You will have an interrupted supply of power at night when the sun is not there, which means a low electricity supply.

If we had a cheaper way of storing energy during the dark days, it would provide electricity at night. Germany, one of the most extensive uses of solar energy, is trying to come with a way to store solar energy to be used during days when the sun is not available.

Environmental Downside

Solar panels and solar systems are just like any other electronics.

When it comes to disposing of them, they can cause environmental problems. Hazardous waste can become an additional challenge when it comes to disposing of them.

However, if we all maintain the proper disposal protocols, there should not be any problem with the environment.

Read more: Are there hidden costs of solar panels for environments?

Material Scarcity

When you think of producing a solar panel system, you might as well consider sophisticated materials and technology to be used. Material scarcity is primarily for the PV technology rather than the CSP tech.

Most of the raw materials used are byproducts of other materials rather than a mining effort. As solar technology continues to grow, so are the raw materials that are used to manufacture them.

Solar Panels are not Compatible with All Roofs.

Not all homes can hold several solar panels, especially when the house is old school. The roof cannot be installed in a roof, which is not stable, and if you do so, it will not sustain the weight for long.

Modern apartments have additional roofs, also known as roof decks. That will make installing a solar system difficult for the installers at all. Your roof cannot handle solar panels; you can opt for ground-mounted solar systems or even the community solar gardens.

Solar Does Not Operate at Night

Some people will think that there will be no need to use the grid when they go solar. That is not true in most solar technology. Solar panels are most effective when the sun is overhead, and the excess can go to the grid.

Even though companies like SunPower have introduced home batteries as a storage option, it is still not widespread. Most solar-powered houses depend on the grid, especially at night, when the sunlight is not available.

Final Thoughts

At the end of it all, we must weigh the advantages and the disadvantages before using a solar panel. Check if the advantages outweigh the drawbacks and some of the advantages of solar energy. Think of what you are going to use the solar system and make the right choice. Before you decide to go solar, you must first do your research and make sure you get all the 

information you need. Not all solar systems indeed serve the same purpose. They do not always have the same efficiency, reliability, durability, design, or even output. Get some advice for the experts who will show you what is best for you.

You should always invest in top-quality solar panels. A right solar panel can last you more than 25 years without having any problems.

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