What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy comprises of renewable energy source ‘Sunlight’ which is transformed into usable energy by solar panels. The amount of solar energy available on Earth is present in excess as per the world’s current and anticipated energy needs. If appropriately harnessed, this highly dispersed source has the potential to meet all future energy requirements. In the 21st century solar energy is expected to become increasingly favorable as a renewable energy source because of its limitless supply and its non-polluting aspect. There are two main categories of solar energy: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels directly convert solar energy into an accessible form of energy using a PV cell made up of semiconductor material. Solar energy has become the most important form in overall green energy sources because of its advantages among which its accessibility is the most vital one. The times are changing, so is the need for energy sources and solar power!
Below is a detailed explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy:
Advantages of Solar Energy
1. Renewable Source of Energy
Among all the major benefits of solar panels, the most important one is that solar energy is a fully renewable energy source. It can be generated in any part of the world and is accessible every day. One cannot run out of solar energy, unlike any of the other sources of energy. Solar energy will be accessible to the people as long as they have the sun.
2. Reduces Electricity Bills
Since solar energy helps fulfill some of your energy needs with the electricity your solar system generates, your energy bills will drop. How much energy bill you save will depend on the size of the solar system and your electricity or heat usage. If your business uses commercial solar panels, it can have huge benefits because the larger the system is, larger it can cover chunks of your energy bills. Moreover, it will not only save you electricity bill, but will also fetch you payments for the surplus energy that you export back to the grid (in case you generate more electricity than you use).
3. Diversified Applications
Solar energy can be used for varied purposes. You can generate electricity or heat both. Solar energy can be widely used to generate electricity in such areas which do not have access to energy grid
4. Low Maintenance Costs
Installation of solar energy systems generally doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. You only need to keep them clean, and cleaning them a couple of times per year will ease your job. If in doubt, you can always opt for specialized cleaning companies.
Also, as there are no moving parts involved in the solar system, there is no wear and tear. The inverter is the part of the system that needs to be replaced within 5-10 years of usage as it is continuously working to transform solar energy into electricity and heat. Apart from the inverter which is used, the cables attached also needs maintenance to ensure that solar power system works at maximum efficiency. So, after spending initially on the solar system, you have to spend very little on further maintenance and repair.
5. Technology Development
All sorts of technology in the solar power industry are constantly accelerating and improvements will reach to its peak in the future. Several scientific developments can lead to hike in the effectiveness of solar panels and double, or triple the electrical input of the solar power systems.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
The initial cost of getting installed a solar system is high. This includes paying for solar panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and the total installation. Nevertheless, solar technologies are constantly developing, so it is assured that prices will go down in the coming future.
Although solar energy can still be extracted during cloudy and rainy days, the maximum efficiency of the solar system drops in such conditions. Solar panels are totally dependent on sunlight to effectively gather solar energy; therefore, a few cloudy and rainy days can have an effect on the output of the energy system. You should also take into consideration that solar energy cannot be collected during the night.
3. Solar Energy Storage is Expensive
If solar energy is not to be used right away, it can be stored in large batteries. These batteries, used in off-the-grid solar systems can be charged during the day time so that the energy is used during the night. This is a good idea to use solar energy all the day long but it is also quite expensive.
In most cases, it is best to use solar energy during the day time and retrieve energy from the grid during the night (you can only do this if your system is connected to the grid). This works because your energy demand is usually higher during the day and you can meet most of it with solar energy.
4. Uses a Lot of Space
The more electricity you want to generate, the more solar panels you will need; as you want to gather maximum sunlight. Solar PV panels require a lot of space and some roofs are not big enough to fit the number of solar panels that you would like to install as per your need.
An alternative to this issue is to install some of the panels in your yard that has access to sunlight. If you don’t have the space for all the panels that you need, you can also opt for installing fewer to meet at least some of your energy needs!
5. Leads to Pollution
Although pollution generated by solar energy systems is far less as compared to other sources of energy; still solar energy can be associated with pollution. Transportation and installation process of solar systems have been associated with the emission of greenhouse gases.
There are also some toxic materials and hazardous products used during the manufacturing process of solar photovoltaic systems, which can indirectly harm the environment.