Solar energy has quickly become a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-generated electricity. A solar system, consisting of photovoltaic (PV) panels, storage systems, and solar trackers, is capable of producing enough energy to meet or exceed the energy requirements of a typical household. This makes solar energy systems attractive due to their renewable nature and its ability to reduce air pollution. However, there are also drawbacks to solar energy that should be considered before fully adopting it. This article will discuss the five key disadvantages of utilizing solar energy.
Disadvantage #1: Cost
The most significant disadvantage of utilizing a solar system is the cost. Initially, homeowners or commercial businesses are required to purchase the necessary solar equipment, such as solar panels, batteries, and trackers. This cost can easily run into the thousands of dollars, depending on the size and quality of the system.
Though there are tax incentives, grants, and other financial incentives offered by the government, the overall cost for a solar system can still be prohibitively expensive for some. However, it is important to consider the potential savings when determining the value of a solar system. Over time, and in the long term, a solar system will reduce the utility bills and offset the initial cost.
Disadvantage #2: Weather Dependent
Another drawback of utilizing solar energy is that it is weather dependent. Efficiency of a solar system will decrease any time rain, haze, or other weather condition limits the amount of direct sunlight reaching the solar panels. On cloudy days and in the evening, the solar system’s productivity plummets significantly.
Additionally, snow can also reduce the efficiency. As snow accumulates on top of the solar panels, it reduces the amount of direct sunlight his hits the photovoltaic cells, resulting in less electricity being generated. As such, when snow is present, it is necessary to routinely clear it of the panels to allow the solar system to reach maximum efficiency.
Disadvantage #3: Solar Energy Storage is Expensive
Solar energy storage is necessary for a solar system to become fully operational. These systems are usually expensive, depending on the battery system being purchased. Battery systems such as the one manufactured by Tesla, the Powerwall, can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the capacity of the system and the number of batteries purchased.
The lithium-ion batteries used in the Powerwall are capable of storing a large quantity of electricity, which can be used to provide power even when there is no sunlight available. However, these batteries require regular maintenance, adding to the total cost of the solar system.
Disadvantage #4: Uses a Lot of Space
A solar system requires a large amount of space to reach its maximum potential. Depending on the size and capacity of the system, the solar equipment can take up hundreds of square feet of space. This can be an issue if the property lacks a spacious rooftop or sufficient yard space, making it difficult to install the necessary solar equipment without sacrificing other features of the home, such as the curb appeal.
One solution for utilizing limited space is to install a ‘solar carport’. This is a structure that is built over the driveway of the home or business. The solar carport allows the solar system to be installed while still preserving the existing space. Additionally, the solar carport provides shade, which reduces the temperature, lowering the A/C bill on hot days.
Disadvantage #5: Associated with Pollution
When considering the environmental impact of solar energy, it is important to remember that the manufacturing process of solar equipment can contribute to environmental pollution. The manufacturing process gives off fumes, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, that can contribute to air pollution. Additionally, the production process requires a lot of energy, usually from non-renewable sources, resulting in more emissions.
It is also important to note that solar panels are made of glass and silicon, which are not biodegradable. As solar panels have relatively long lifespans, the waste that is generated from disposing of the solar panel is difficult to contain and mitigate.
Although there are several disadvantages of utilizing a solar system, the benefits of using solar energy often outweigh the drawbacks. Solar energy is clean and renewable, and it can significantly reduce energy costs and air pollution in the long run. As such, it is an attractive resource for homeowners and businesses.
When considering the installation of a solar system, it is important to consider the long-term savings and benefits that solar energy can provide. Additionally, it is important to also recognize the potential drawbacks and carefully consider whether a solar system is a viable option for your home or business.
The above overview has highlighted five of the key disadvantages of solar energy. These include the upfront cost of the system, the dependence of efficiency (due to the weather), the cost of energy storage, the amount of space needed, and the environmental impact of solar panel production. While it is important to recognize these drawbacks, when used correctly and in the right circumstances, solar energy can be an effective, sustainable solution for energy needs.