Solar energy advantages and disadvantages

Solar energy is touted by many as the main energy source of the future so let us look at the advantages and disadvanatges of solar energy.

Solar energy has much more advantages than disadvantages but certain solar energy disadvantages are still a major stumbling block on the road towards the broader use of solar energy. Still, I will start this article in positive note by first discussing the advantages of solar energy.

As many of you already know solar energy is renewable energy source. Our sun is virtually an unlimited source of energy, and solar energy cannot be depleted unlike fossil fuels that will eventually become depleted. Once this happens world needs to have good alternatives, and solar energy definitely looks like one of the best possible alternatives.

Solar energy is environmentally friendly energy source that doesn’t emit harmful carbon emissions that contribute to climate change like fossil fuels do. With every watt of energy generated from the Sun we need less fossil fuels, and with it we are actually reducing the impact of climate change. The latest studies have reported that an average home solar system is capable to eliminate 18 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the environment each year. Solar energy also doesn’t emit nitrogen oxide or sulphur dioxide meaning that it doesn’t contribute to smog or acid rain.

Sun is completely free energy source to use by each and every one of us. Nobody owns the Sun, so after you recover the initial investment, the remaining energy from the Sun is completely free.

The more solar energy we use the less we are dependent on fossil fuels. This is not only good from the environmental point of view but also improves our energy dependence and our energy security since there is a lesser need for foreign oil import.

On the long run solar energy saves your money. The initial costs are significant but after some time you will have access to energy that is totally free, and if your home solar system produces more energy than you need, your utility company can buy it from you, meaning there’s a potential extra profit involved. Many countries also provide different tax benefits, and offer financial incentives for using solar energy.

Solar panels operate very silently (unlike huge wind turbines) so there is no noise pollution. Solar panels usually have a very respectable lifespan of at least 30 years, and maintenance costs connected with them are very low since they have no moving parts. It is also fairly easy to install solar panels.

Solar energy is one of the best energy options for remote applications. Solar energy is one of the best options to supply electricity to isolated places in the world where the cost associated with installing power distribution lines makes it either impractical or impossible.

The main disadvantage of solar energy are high initial costs. Solar panels are made out of expensive materials and they do not come cheap, even despite the recent drop in prices (the price of a typical five-kilowatt rooftop solar system has dropped from $22,000 to $16,000 in the 2009, and by the end of 2010 the price could drop even further to $12,000).

Solar panels also need to improve their efficiency. in order to achieve the adequate level of efficiency they need quite a large area for their installation, and they also need to be ideally placed towards the sun, without obstacles like trees, to achieve required efficiency.

Solar energy requires cheap and efficient energy storage solutions because Sun is intermittent energy source (Sun doesn’t shine at night).

Large scale solar energy projects (large solar power plants) would require large areas of land, and lot of water for cooling purposes.

Many areas in the world do not have enough sunshine to make solar energy economically viable energy option. Advanced scientific solutions are therefore very much needed to make solar energy commercial in these areas.

As you can see from above solar energy really has much more advantages that disadvantages but high initial costs and efficiency issues still cannot be overlooked.