As solar energy becomes increasingly accepted as many people start to take note of the rapidly increasing global warming problems, it is important to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages of this renewable energy source.
The main aspect of solar energy that differentiates it from other sources of energy is that it is free. The only cost is usually linked to purchasing the solar panels that are then used to capture solar energy. Discussed below are several benefits and demerits of solar panels.
Advantages of solar panels
Helps to avoid greenhouse gases
The first benefit of using solar panels to generate electricity is that they do not produce any harmful greenhouse gases. Alternatively, clean energy is produced through conducting radiation from the sun. This process does not involve any production of gas, smoke or any chemical by-product. Montalto di Castro in Italy is a good example of how countries are committed to meeting climate change requirements in cutting emissions.
Decentralizes energy production
Another vital benefit that solar panels provide is that it helps to decentralize production of energy, which leads to a more self reliant society. Gas, oil and coal used to generate traditional electricity is usually transported internationally or cross-country. This transportation is associated with lots of other additional costs, such as air pollution and monetary expenses. All these costs are easily avoided with the use of solar energy.
Enables people to go off grid
This benefit is appreciated by people living in remote locations of the world with limited access to the main power lines. On grid normally means that a home stays connected to state power gridlines. However, off grid does not require a connection to state power gridlines, so the home or business being powered will be solely relying on solar power. This will benefit those in remote regions since power costs, particularly installation, are usually very high.
Disadvantages of solar panels
Inefficiency in production
A common criticism of solar energy is that it is comparatively inefficient. Solar efficiency refers to the amount of radiation that solar panels can convert to electrical energy, which is roughly 20%. Hence, you require a large surface area so as to produce lots of electricity. Nevertheless, solar efficiency continues to improve steadily and it is expected to rise over the coming years.
Storage of solar energy is yet to reach its full potential. Even though there are numerous solar batteries available on the market, these are bulky and costly. Furthermore, these batteries are more suitable for small scale solar panels and not huge solar farms.
High installation cost
Capital costs associated with solar energy installation are very high. Particularly unhelpful is the high upfront costs of buying solar panels. Imagine paying upfront for roughly 25 years of power. That is an exceedingly disadvantageous aspect of solar power, especially during this period of recession where people are struggling to meet their daily needs.
Solar power and other green technologies help to get people thinking with a view to be more environmentally friendly. Many governments continue to encourage solar use by providing rebates, subsidies and tariffs. A good example is California, which is a success story of how these measures can really work to benefit the society as a whole.