What are some positives & negatives of solar energy?
Solar can reduce your electric bill:
A big reason home owners go solar is to save money. When producing your own energy from the sun you reduce the amount you pay to your utility company and that reduces your monthly electricity bill.
How much can you save with solar energy?
According to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, the majority of U.S. homeowners who invested in a 5 kilowatt (kW) solar pv system saved between $44 to $187 per month in their first year after it was installed.
Net Metering – supplying energy to the grid:
Besides direct utility bill savings, solar panels allow you to earn energy credits through the Net Metering Program. The program is aimed at grid-tied solar systems with the purpose of supporting home owners who switch to renewable sources of energy. You’ll need to contact your local utility provider to see if this is available in your area.
Financial incentive from our government:
The U.S. government offers a 30% tax credit for the installation of pv systems or solar water heaters. It is a dollar for dollar reduction in your income taxes.
The 30% tax credit expires December 31, 2019. Then it will drop to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and then will no longer be available.
A Solid Return on investment:
Based on the amount of money you save with your solar system, you can expect a return on your investment within the period of its warranty. Most solar installers give you a warranty of 20 to 25 years.
For many this will be better than that offered by Wall Street funds.
Protect our Energy security:
Like it of not we depend on the grid power for almost everything. And the grid power is mainly generated by fossil fuels, a nonrenewable source of energy that is being depleted much more rapidly than most people think.
This means that our electricity is susceptible to never-ending increases in energy prices.
The sun’s energy is not owned or controlled by any foriegn government or monopoly, it’s price does not fluctuate and so is a very secure renewable energy source for the future.
An Unlimited source of energy:
The sun rains 173,000 terawatts of energy down on the Earth every second. This energy can be harvested at any location globally.
Increased solar power applications in daily life:
Electricity generation is not the only use of solar energy at home.
Solar water heaters are commonly used to heat and store hot water in warmer climates.
Solar energy has been in powering our portable devices. We are able to charge our small electronics on the go.
Even outdoor electronic gadgets, like garden lights or home security systems are now powered entirely from solar energy.
Ever Improving technology:
New innovations in the solar power industry have advanced quickly. As research continues to make solar energy harvesting more efficient, the potential in the near future is incredible.
Increase the value of your house:
Solar installation adds value to your home.
With increasing desire for the benefits of renewable energy, more house buyers buying a property with a solar system in place.
The maintenance is minimal:
Solar panels are durable, and have no moving parts so there is very little wear and tear. They can withstand even moderate hailstorms without any damage.
Common maintenance is the cleaning of dust and dirt.
Solar is environmentally friendly:
Solar energy generation significantly reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar is good for our health:
Reduced concentrations of sulfur, nitrogen, and particulate matter in the air we breathe can reduce the premature deaths of between 25,000 to 59,000 people, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
No noisy generators oir power plants of today’s world, solar panels are absolutely silent when working.
Reduced local noise pollution.
What are some disadvantages of solar energy?
High initial cost:
Its true that solar energy saves money in the long run, but one of the disadvantages is the initial installation cost of the whole system.
Solar power can reduce your monthly electricity bills instantly, however the return on your investment comes after several years. This requires a lot of research and planning before deciding how to cover the upfront investment.
There are options. You can choose from solar leases, loans, or power purchase agreements. You just need to make sure you evaluate these options thoroughly before deciding whether solar panels are worth it.
Solar energy is generated only from the sunlight. At night or on cloudy days, your system will not produce power. Which is one of the main reasons why we should not rely entirely on solar power
Low efficiency of solar panels:
Solar technology still has the low efficiency when converting the sun’s energy into electricity, meaning that a great deal of energy is lost in the process.
However, this technology is constantly improving.
Roof material and space requirements:
A 5-kilowatt installation for a family house might consist of 25 solar panels. Each panel is around 65″ long and 40″ wide. This means you need an area of 135′ in length and 83′ in width to place the whole system, which can be a problem for smaller homes.
If you are unable to fit the panels on your roof, you have the option to use ground-mounted solar panels.
Expensive energy storage:
Solar power produces excess during peak sunlight and shuts down completely at night. Solar batteries are now able to resolve this problem by charging during the day and providing electricity at night.
However, the current price and maintenance remain a challenge.
Environmental footprint of manufacture:
Manufacturing solar panels still comes with environmental implications.
Solar cells are made of rare and toxic materials such as cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium selenide. The use of these elements pose health risk for people and the environment if not handled properly. The need to be recycled.
Solar panels don’t emit greenhouse gases, but the processes prior of they manufacturing —including the extraction of these materials and their transportation — do.
While solar energy has its disadvantages, the majority of these negatives are technical in nature and will be overcome as technological innovation advances.
But solar energy is not the 100% solution. We need other renewable sources like geothermal energy, wind, and tidal power.
When these are deployed together locally we can all enjoy a brighter and cleaner future.
Top image is a Ranking of 50 Largest Cities Based On Where Solar Offers a Better Financial Value Than Local Utilities. Source: Going Solar in America