The sun is one of the largest sources of clean, natural, and renewable energy. According to expert studies, the amount of energy produced by the sun in an hour could suffice the world’s total energy requirement in a year. This […]
The sun is one of the largest sources of clean, natural, and renewable energy. According to expert studies, the amount of energy produced by the sun in an hour could suffice the world’s total energy requirement in a year. This explains the huge untapped potential of solar energy for home and industrial use.
In this article, you’ll discover what solar energy is, the major advantages and disadvantages of using solar energy.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar power is the energy derived from the sun. It is harnessed through the sun’s rays and converted into both thermal and electric energy. A solar panel captures the sun’s rays and converts them into usable electricity, through photovoltaic cells installed inside the solar panel.
Energy from the sun is harnessed in three major ways, namely photovoltaic electricity, concentrated solar power, and energy for heating or cooling.
Photovoltaic cells by the US Department of Energy:
Advantages and disadvantages of Solar Energy
Sun-derived energy is a perfect energy solution for both industrial and home use. However, like other forms of energy, going solar has a set of pros and cons you should consider.
1. Reduced Energy Cost
According to statistics on energy use, the cost of electricity in The United States of America hit a whooping 10.66 cents for every kilowatt-hour in the year 2020. The average household cost of electricity reached a peak of 13.2 US cents that year. Although this was lower compared to other countries, electricity cost in 2020 surpassed the previous year’s electricity cost.
Solar energy can help you subsidize the high electricity use in your home, hence lower the energy bill. This, however, depends on the power output of your solar panel. Installing a large solar system will help you cover much of your household energy consumption.
2. Available for Multi-Use
Solar devices produce photovoltaic electricity that provides power for small electric appliances via an electric circuit. Heating and cooling technology uses the sun’s energy for water heating and cooling in residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
Large power plants use special mirrors that collect the sun’s rays to produce thermal energy. The energy is effective in driving turbines and engines that produce electricity. Solar energy, therefore, has many uses at home, in commercial buildings, or industries.
3. Renewable Source of Energy
The World Economic Forum listed solar energy among the world’s top six sources of renewable energy. In 2012, energy derived from the sun accounted for 96 billion kilowatts of renewable energy.
The best thing about renewable energy is that you can’t exhaust it, since it is available every day in most parts of the world. As long as the sun is available, you’ll still access solar energy, with little worry about running out of stock.
4. Requires Little Maintenance
By installing a solar panel at home, you’ll incur little maintenance costs compared to other sources of energy. Your panel has no moving parts, hence there’s little wear on the cables.
You only need to clean your solar panel, change the cables occasionally, and buy an inverter when necessary. Besides, most solar panel manufacturers have a minimum of a 20-year warranty on their products. As a result, you’ll spend a negligible amount of money on repair or maintenance.
How power inverters work by The Engineering Mindset:
5. Solar Is Green Energy
Unlike other forms of energy, such as fossil fuel and coal, solar energy does not produce greenhouse gases that pollute the environment. According to the National Geographic Association, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and other industrial emissions have serious health and environmental effects
Solar energy is a clean energy solution that ensures zero carbon emission and prevents the adverse effects of pollution on the natural environment.
1. Higher Cost of Installation
Despite the low maintenance cost, fixing a solar system for the first time may be costly. This includes the cost of the panel, solar battery, electric inverter, solar cables, and installation by a qualified technician.
The cost of a solar panel depends on the type and power output. On average, you’ll spend between $3,500-$ 35,000 to buy a panel and between $15,000-$25,000 for installation. However, the high cost of installation is worth the benefits you’ll reap afterward.
2. Affected by Weather Changes
Solar panels require constant availability of sunlight to produce enough energy, so be sure to have occasional interruptions in your power supply. Although your panel could still work during cloudy weather, its efficiency may drop without the sun’s rays. In addition, you cannot harness solar energy at night.
As an alternative, you may install a thermodynamic panel to help you with water heating during winter or at night. Despite the low power output of solar panels in cloudy weather, these devices are still effective even in snowy weather. In a past study, snowfall had little impact on solar panels installed at an angle of 45 degrees to the sun’s rays.
Video link showing how effective solar panels are in winter:
3. You Require a Bigger Space for a Large Panel
Installing a solar system may require a bigger space for the solar panels on your roofs. If you want more electricity, you’ll need larger panels, hence more space. As an alternative, you may find extra space in your backyard for additional panels.
The challenge comes when you have no space in the backyard either. In addition, solar energy requires battery storage for the off-grid system. The larger the battery you have, the more power you’ll store for off-grid use.
The benefits of solar energy cannot be overemphasized. The system guarantees you a reduction in energy cost, multiple applications, little maintenance, and zero carbon emission to the environment. So, if you’re considering installing a solar panel, do not hesitate. Simply contact a technician or solar company for a professional installation.