Solar panels are amazing pieces of technology; they give us the ability to produce electricity from sunlight. Before we take a look at the pros and cons of solar panels, let’s quickly go through the basics.
What is Solar Power?
Solar technology harnesses solar power; it converts sunlight into electricity through a process known as the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect takes place in solar cells that are found in solar panels. This technology has been around for a really long time. However, the technology has become accessible only a few decades ago. Before that, its high manufacturing cost and low efficiency made solar power unfeasible.
Currently, solar technology is progressing at a rapid pace. It is estimated that by 2050, solar power will be fulfilling 50% of the world’s total energy requirement. This technology has numerous benefits that make it so attractive. Let’s talk about these benefits.
Advantages of Solar Power
Solar energy is 100% renewable, what this means is that solar energy’s fuel source (the sun) is infinite. An infinite fuel source means that we never have to worry about fuel shortages like we have to with fossil fuels.
Not only is sunlight never-ending, it is also available everywhere on the planet. There aren’t any geographical limitations to the supply of sunlight. The earth receives around 120,000tW or sunlight (solar radiation). 120,000tW of sunlight can power the entire planet 20,000 times.
One of the best things about solar energy is its sustainability. Converting it into electricity doesn’t produce any harmful by-products. Also, sunlight does not need to be processed before it can be used. Its sustainability means that we can use it to create electricity without having to worry about damaging the environment.
When compared to the other power production methods we have available, solar energy is by far the cleanest option available to us. One of the reasons why solar technology is advancing so rapidly right now is because we know that it can help us save the environment. By converting to solar, we can meet our energy requirements and also reduce carbon emissions.
Solar energy is available everywhere. Countries situated close to the equator and countries near the poles can benefit from it equally. It’s an energy source that is available to anyone. And no one can restrict anyone else’s access to it.
Its availability, sustainability, and abundance mean that solar energy is very cheap. It doesn’t have to be processed or transported either. People who are converting to solar are able to bring their energy costs down by a wide margin. In the near future, we can expect the per kW cost of solar energy to go as low as a few cents per kW.
Solar technology can also provide people with a source of passive income. People who have domestic solar solutions can provide excess energy to the commercial grid. Areas where net metering schemes are available actually reimburse people for the energy they feed into the grid.
Compared to other energy solutions, solar technology is highly versatile. Its easy installation and low-maintenance nature mean that solar power stations can be set up in even the most remote places. Its lower initial cost means that people can even set up solar power stations on their own property.
Advancements in solar technology have also made the technology combinable with all kinds of devices. In the future, we will get to see solar technology being combined with so many things in so many different ways.
Even on a private level, a solar installation of a certain level can provide power to more than one household. This leads to the possibility of community solar gardens being established that can provide numerous people with low-cost energy.
Solar power plants don’t have any moving parts. This means that even when operating at full capacity, they produce no sound. This makes them environmentally friendly from a noise pollution point of view as well.
A solar power plant isn’t fussy at all. The only maintenance it needs is a bit of cleaning every now and then. And since solar panels have a really long lifespan, you won’t need to worry about replacing them for at least 20 to 25 years.
Rapid Advancement in Technology
Solar technology is being researched extensively. Thanks to this, the technology is being improved at a very fast pace. Its efficiency is going up and its production cost is going down. Recent innovations are estimated to improve the output of solar panels by up to 3 times.
Solar Technology Improves Your Property’s Value
The initial cost of solar technology is high, but it’s more of an investment than a cost. This is because having a solar solution on your property can actually increase its value. Over time, your home will fetch a higher price thanks to this investment.
Disadvantages of Solar Power
Solar energy is amazing, but it isn’t perfect; just like everything else, it has a few drawbacks that are worth mentioning.
Solar panel has a high initial cost. This makes a lot of people think twice before investing in this technology. What makes this initial cost more daunting is the fact that the return on this investment comes back over a long period of time.
However, if you manage to look beyond the cost barrier, you will realize that the number of benefits you get really outweigh the cost.
Energy Storage Solutions Are Expensive
In order to make a solar power station fully practical, you need to install energy storage as well. These batteries can be expensive, and they also need to be monitored when they are being charged.
Solar Panels Are Made of Harmful Materials
A lot of materials used for manufacturing solar panels are harmful in nature. This makes solar panel manufacturing harmful to the environment. Also, when solar panels need to be disposed of, they can have adverse effects on the environment. Fortunately, there is work being done on finding more environmentally friendly materials.
Solar Panels Take Up a Lot of Space
Any solar powerplant requires space in order to set up its solar panels. This makes installing solar power plants a challenge, especially in places where space is limited.
Only Works During The Day
Solar panels require sunlight to produce electricity. If there is weak sunlight or no sunlight at all, their power production goes down significantly. This makes solar power stations slightly unreliable.
Just like everything else, solar technology is not perfect. It has a few downsides, but these downsides are quickly being eliminated as solar technology is advancing. Even with all the current downsides, solar technology is still far better than any other energy production solution available to us.