American Corpus

All About Green Energy

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

In the past few decades, solar energy has become a popular source of energy for many homes and it continues to grow. A lot of people are making the switch to solar energy in an effort to “go green” which is trending right now. Solar energy is great because it is derived from the sun’s radiation and all you need is to install solar panels. However, before making the switch, consider the following pros and cons of using solar energy:

PROS


 

1. Renewable

Solar energy is renewable, which means we will never run out of it. This is not the case with other non-renewable sources of energy such as coal, fossil fuels, or nuclear energy.

According to reports by NASA, the sun is expected to be alive for the next 6.5 billion years, which means we are not running out of solar energy any time soon.

2. Abundant

The sun produces solar energy that is enough to power up the entire world. The earth’s surface receives about 120,000 terrawatts of sunlight (solar radiation), which is over 20,000 times more power than we need to power up the entire world. According to scientists, we are currently able to harness only 0.001% of that energy. Even if everyone decided to go solar, it would still be sufficient for everyone’s needs.

3. Sustainable

Sustainability is providing for your needs without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Since solar energy is abundant and renewable, there is no risk of over consuming it which means no matter how much of it we use today, our kids and their grandkids will still be able to use solar power.

4. Reduced electricity bills

With solar energy, you will be able to meet some of the energy needs comfortably. As a result, your energy bills will be a lot lower than before. How much you save on energy bills depends on your electricity usage and size of your solar energy system. For some people, the solar energy is enough while others may need some energy from the grid to supplement what they get from solar energy. There are also other people who are able to generate more solar energy than they need. In that case, the surplus can be exported to your grid if you are connected or sold to the neighbors.

5. Diverse applications

People can use solar energy for multiple applications. You can generate heat (solar thermal) and electricity (photovoltaics) using solar energy. Solar energy is used to power up areas that are not connected to the grid, distill water in areas with limited clean water supply, power up satellites in space, be integrated into building materials, among many other applications.

6. Environmentally friendly

Solar energy is renewable and harnessing it does not generally cause pollution. Even though there are emissions that come about during the manufacturing, transportation or installation of solar power systems, this is almost nothing compared to those caused throughout the life of conventional energy sources. Solar energy makes us less dependent on non-renewable energy sources which is all good news for the environment.

7. Good availability

As long as you have access to the sun, you can harness solar energy regardless of which corner of the globe you are in. This means that almost everyone in the world can get solar energy. And you don’t even need to be close to the equator – Germany, for instance, has the highest solar power capacity in the world by far.

8. Low maintenance costs

Once you install your solar power system, you can rest easy since solar energy systems don’t need a lot of maintenance. You just need to clean them a couple of times every year which is usually not expensive. Also, there is less wear and tear since there are no moving parts. Top solar panel manufacturers give you 20-25 years warranty so in case anything goes wrong, you are covered. The only thing you may have to replace after about a decade is the inverter since it’s always working.

9. No noise pollution

Unlike other energy sources like hydroelectric power, geothermal and wind turbines, solar energy produces no sound at all. This makes it a favorable source of energy for homes even in urban areas.

10. Government incentives

The government is always encouraging homeowners and business owners to use solar power. In some states, you can get as much as 30% renewable tax credit and rebates in others.

11. Technology is advancing

Renewable energy is the future, and many technological advancements are being made in the manufacture and design of solar power equipment. Solar panels are becoming more efficient reducing the space needed to generate a specific amount of energy. Scientists are doing all they can to make renewable energy cheap and available to everyone.

CONS


 

1. The high cost of installation

The reason why most people shy away from solar energy is that the capital cost of installing solar power systems is too high compared to just paying to be connected to the grid. Such costs include paying for solar panels, batteries, inverter, wiring, and installation.

2. Dependent on the time and weather

Solar panels require sunlight to gather solar energy effectively. The more sunlight there is, the more the energy generated. As such, it is impossible to collect solar energy at night. Even though it is possible to collect solar energy during rainy or cloudy days, it’s efficiency drops significantly.

3. Storing solar energy is expensive

If you want to use solar power when not collecting it (at night), you need batteries to store the energy. Such batteries are expensive especially if you need to store a lot of energy.

4. Requires space

The amount of solar energy you collect depends on the number of solar panels you have. If you want more energy, you need to install more solar panels. However, due to shading, ownership issues, and insufficient space, a lot of homes are simply unfit for solar panels, particularly in multiuser residencies.

5. Pollution

As mentioned earlier, the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of solar panels can cause pollution indirectly.