Exploring the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Introduction: Solar Energy’s Increasing Popularity & Advantages
Solar energy has become increasingly popular over the past few decades due to the growing awareness of the serious environmental impacts caused by burning fossil fuels. Solar energy is a clean source of energy that does not rely on any finite resources and is much more sustainable than other sources. Additionally, it does not produce any negative byproducts, such as carbon emissions and air pollution, that can contribute to global warming and other natural disasters. Solar energy is also becoming more accessible and affordable as technology advances and the costs of installations continue to decrease.
Overview of Disadvantage #1: High Initial Costs of Installing Solar Panels
Though the costs of solar energy have decreased in recent years, the high initial costs of installing solar panels remain a solar energy disadvantage. Depending on the size and scope of the system, the total costs, including materials, installation fees, and connections fees, can still cost thousands of dollars. Many homeowners may also have to pay additional fees such as housing, sales, and/or use taxes. As a result, some may find it difficult to cover the full costs of solar energy installations upfront.
financial obstacles to installation
There are also financial obstacles to installing solar energy systems. This can include government regulations that may limit the type of systems homeowners can install on their property, which can become costly if a homeowner chooses a more expensive system. Also, depending on the market in which a homeowner lives, incentives, such as tax credits and net metering, may not be available, making it more difficult to cover the full installation costs.
Ways to Work Around These Limitations
Though there are a few financial obstacles to consider when installing solar energy systems, there are numerous ways to work around these limitations. Many local solar companies offer installment options and loan programs to help homeowners cover the costs of installing solar panels. These options allow homeowners to pay back the costs over time while still potentially reducing the total costs of their installation. Additionally, homeowners can look into state and local incentives, such as tax credits and rebates, which can help to offset the upfront costs of installation.
Overview of Disadvantage #2: Expensive Solar Energy Storage
Another solar energy disadvantage is the costly solar energy storage. Currently, most residential solar energy systems use batteries to store excess energy produced by the solar panels which can be used at a later time. However, high necessary battery capacities and temperature challenges can make installation of these batteries expensive. Depending on the size of the battery, their cost can be comparable to that of the solar panels, or even more in some cases.
High Necessary Battery Capacity and Temperature Challenges
The batteries used for solar energy storage remain expensive partially due to their need for a high energy capacity, or the total energy output needed from the batteries. Batteries that have large capacities tend to cost more, as they require higher levels of raw material to store the energy being generated by the solar panels. Additionally, many batteries on the market have temperature challenges, meaning they are not made to withstand the extreme temperatures found in many climates.
Technologies Aimed at Making Storage More Efficient
While costly solar energy storage is a solar energy disadvantage, many technologies are emerging aimed at making solar energy storage more efficient. Some newer technologies, such as the Tesla Power Wall, are specifically designed for storing energy generated by solar energy systems. They are equipped with features such as temperature control and a longer life span, making them more efficient and cost-effective. Additionally, companies are developing preservative technologies that can increase the life of the batteries and lower their costs.
Overview of Disadvantage #3: Solar Doesn’t Work for Every Roof Type
In addition to the financial hurdles of solar energy installations, solar energy also has some constraints based on the roof type of a building. Low sun exposure and sloped roofs can make it difficult to generate the most efficient amount of energy with solar panels. Additionally, the cost of constructing supports to hold the solar panels in place may become more expensive if the roof is unable to support the weight of the panels.
Difficulties With Low Sun Exposure & Sloped Roofs
Solar energy systems can face difficulty with roofs that receive low sun exposure during a majority of the year. This may mean that the solar panels will not generate enough energy to maximize efficiency, and the higher costs of installation compared to the lower energy return may make it unviable for some homeowners. Additionally, solar energy systems may not be ideal for sloped roofs, as the orientation of the solar panels may not be optimized for capturing sunlight. If the solar panels are not angled correctly, there may be challenges with the energy efficiency and capacity of the system.
Solutions for These Roofs
There are ways to overcome the challenges posed by roofs that have low sun exposure or are sloped. Many solar energy systems offer solutions such as tracking systems that allow the solar panels to adjust to the angle of the sun as it moves throughout the day. There are also solutions available such as mirrored reflectors to capture more sunlight and increase the effectiveness of the solar panels.
Overview of Disadvantage #4: Solar Panels Dependency on Sunlight
A final solar energy disadvantage is that solar panels are dependent on sunlight to generate energy. While this disadvantage is expected and accepted, it can become a problem during the winter or on cloudy days when the sun does not make an appearance. This lack of energy production can mean that homeowners must rely on traditional energy sources for their energy needs, which can reduce energy savings from solar energy and increase electricity costs.
Impact on Solar Power During Cloudy or Winter Days
When the sun is unable to produce enough energy to power a solar energy system, homeowners may not see the full energy savings associated with the system. This can be particularly cumbersome during the winter or during cloudy days when the sun may not produce enough energy for the solar energy system to function properly. Homeowners may have to rely on traditional energy sources if their solar energy system fails to produce enough energy during these times.
Combating this Problem Through Power Storage
Though this is a solar energy disadvantage, it is possible to combat it through power storage. As mentioned above, many residential solar energy systems come equipped with battery storage solutions that can ensure that homeowners have a steady supply of energy even during times when the sun is unable to provide the necessary energy. This can help to ensure the system runs efficiently and that homeowners are not relying too heavily on traditional energy sources during periods of low electricity production.
Conclusion: Upcoming Solutions Aimed at Reducing Solar Energy Disadvantages
Despite the various solar energy disadvantages outlined above, many solutions are emerging that aim to reduce these disadvantages. From efficient battery storage solutions to systems that can provide solutions for low sun exposure or sloped roofs, the solar energy industry is rapidly evolving. Because of this, homeowners that may have once been limited in their solar energy options, now have more solutions available to them at a cheaper cost.
Reflection/Takeaways: Renewed Appreciation for Solar Energy and Focus on Combating Disadvantages
Though solar energy does come with a few negatives outlined above, it is still a great solution for homeowners looking to reduce their electricity costs and their carbon footprints. By focusing on developing solutions to combat the disadvantages of solar energy, such as efficient batteries and tracking systems, the solar energy industry can continue to evolve and become more efficient and affordable as time goes on.
What are the 2 main disadvantages to solar energy? The two main disadvantages to solar energy are the high initial costs of installing panels and the expensive solar energy storage solutions.