Is Solar Bad For The Environment
Solar power systems / power plants do not produce air pollution or greenhouse gases. The use of solar energy can have a positive and indirect effect on the environment when solar energy replaces or reduces the use of other energy sources that have greater effects on the environment.
Why is solar energy bad for the environment? Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. When these panels enter landfills, valuable resources go to waste. And because solar panels contain toxic materials such as lead that can be released as they break down, landfilling also poses new environmental hazards.
Going Solar Gives You Control Over Rising Energy Costs
Many homeowners face anxiety when it comes to their electricity bills because, in most scenarios, there is nothing you can do to control your utility electricity rate. While the cost of solar has decreased by more than 70 percent in the past decade, the cost of electricity has risen by about five percent, and that trend in rising electric cost is expected to continue. Going solar puts you in the drivers seat when it comes to energy generation. Utilities are quickly adapting to the rising adoption of renewable energy and the U.S. government is quickly increasing its goals for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, which means theres really never been a better time to be energy autonomous.
What Kind Of Protection Prevention Is Used Against Shading
In the early days of home solar power system design an individual inverter was used to convert the DC generated by solar panels into the AC needed by home appliances.
This topology was efficient enough when all of the solar panels were irradiated in full sunshine.
However, if even one of the solar panels became covered, the output of the whole system would be reduced, sometimes dramatically.
The modern solution is to install micro-inverters at the panel level, or a small groups of panels. This has the effect of limiting power reduction to a small part of the solar power system
Also Check: Can A Sole Proprietor Build Business Credit
The Effect Of Irradiance And Location On Solar Energy Output
Irradiance is a direct measure of the suns energy falling onto solar panels and varies according to location. Its measured in kilowatt-hour per square meter per day which is also known as peak-sun-hours.
Solar installers use this value to estimate how much energy a solar panel will produce. The average irradiance for the USA is 4 peak-sun-hours. For a 100 watt solar panel:
Energy generated by 100 watts solar = 100 watts x 4 peak-sun-hours = 400 watt-hours.
Some locations have high irradiance, like Nevada, and others have low irradiance, like Alaska. Alaskas low irradiance is a big disadvantage for people considering a solar energy installation.
Poor weather in the form of clouds has the same effect as low irradiance as the suns energy is blocked.
Solar Power Pros & Cons
Solar power is a renewable source of energy that can be gathered practically anywhere in the world. Solar power plants don’t produce any air, water, or noise pollution and doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases Large-scale power plants can disturb local plant and wildlife due to their size, but compared to fossil fuels, still have a lower environmental footprint. Solar power plants also have less safety risks than fossil fuel plants. Once built, solar power plants have extremely low operating costs, since their major input, sunlight, is free.
There are, however, several major disadvantages that historically have kept solar power from becoming a major supplier of energy. Solar panels can’t collect solar energy at night and the amount they collect during the day varies based on the season and time of day. Solar panels aren’t very good at converting sunlight to electricity – most solar panels have at best a 20% efficiency rate And their costs are high. For a homeowner wishing to install solar panels on their house in the U.S, the average cost for a typical system is around $20,000 For power plants, solar photovoltaic costs 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Compare this to a conventional coal plant and natural gas .
Recommended Reading: What Are The Sizes Of Solar Panels
Solar Power Works In Many Climates
If you live in a relatively cold area or one with harsh winters, electricity is essential for heating the home. You may be skeptical of solar panels’ efficacy in such environments, as shorter days, increased cloud cover, and snow can reduce sun exposure, and thus, electricity production.
However, modern solar panel companies go the extra mile to ensure that solar panels can meet your energy needs, regardless of the conditions. The panels can endure bad weather, and the technology is designed to produce the maximum amount of electricity with a minimal amount of sun exposure.
Solar power professionals use complex modeling strategies to determine the amount of solar energy your roof receives based on local climate conditions. The goal is to deliver a custom solar power solution that addresses your specific needs.
While solar panels cannot produce electricity when covered with snow, its less of a hindrance than youd imagine. Since panels absorb heat from the sun, the snow melts faster than it does on the ground and considering the panels are mounted in a slanting position, it slides off easily.
Despite those supposed obstacles to producing electricity in winter, solar panels are actually more effective when it’s cold. When temperatures are low, the photovoltaic components in the solar panel convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently. In addition, they also catch the sunlight reflecting from snow, offsetting some of the reduced sun exposure.
Diasadvantage Of Solar Energy #3 Environmental Concerns
The third disadvantage of solar power is very important and shouldnt be minimized although they are very clean in operation, solar panels are potential pollutants.
Solar panel manufactures give warranties between 25 to 30 years, guaranteeing output up to 85% to 90% after that time. Panels may continue to generate power for up to 50 years.
It seesm reasonable to suppose that homeowners will opt to replace solar panels soon after the guarantee period, rather than experience declining output levels, particularly if prices keep coming down.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of solar panels are being installed right now and these will be scrapped in 25 years. Where are they going to go?
Don’t Miss: What Is The Best Direction To Face Solar Panels
Solar Doesnt Generate Power At Night
Obviously, solar power relies on the sun to generate power. As such, one of the chief problems with solar energy is that the panels dont work at night. Fortunately, there are different solutions to this challenge.
To begin with, many companies offer batteries capable of storing surplus electricity created during the day. Therefore, even though your panels dont generate electricity at night, you can store enough power to meet your needs.
Alternatively, in some areas, you can capitalize on net metering, which allows you to get credit for surplus power generated during the day. You can then use that credit to offset your electricity costs in the evening.
Solar Panel Technology Is Becoming More Advanced
Ive seen this a lot over the past 5 years. Solar panel technology is taking huge leaps in advancements to allow for some really awesome features. Id say most important in particular is the availability for flexible solar system designs.
The reason why I like this so much is because you can design a system around your energy bill. Depending on when you use the most energy, you can place panels to capture the most sunlight during that time, maximising on your self consumption and giving you the highest possible savings.
Other features include full visibility and tracking of your system so you know its performance and SMART features which can learn when you use the most energy and start to export this to the grid or other places like a battery or electric car.
Recommended Reading: Are Ikea Cabinets Solid Wood
Solar Panels Dont Work For Every Home
To put it simply, solar power relies on sunlight. If your home doesnt receive adequate sunlight, either because of the climate or shade, the solar panels may not be a viable option. The caveat here is that solar panels do not have to be installed on the roof. If there is another part of the property that receives more sunlight, solar panels can be installed there.
Batteries that store solar power can also help offset the risk of limited sunlight, especially if climate is a concern. For example, if you are considering adding solar panels and you live in a place that has stretches of cloudy days, you may be able to bank enough solar power in a battery to use even when the forecast is gloomy.
Pros And Cons Of Solar Energy: What You Need To Know
By installing a home solar system, you can use solar panels to harness the suns rays, convert them into electrical energy and use that energy to power your home. This can offset or even completely replace the energy youd typically get from your utility company. While the advantages of solar energy are plenty, there are also some drawbacks. Here are the top solar energy pros and cons to consider when deciding if solar panels are worth it for your home.
You May Like: Do Solar Panels Work In Michigan
Difficulty In Finding A High
There arent many popular companies in the solar energy sector.
It would be difficult to find even one reputable solar panel installation company in most communities.
Lack of competition in the solar energy sector gives customers fewer options to choose from.
Most homeowners have to depend on pushy salesmen from new solar panel companies who might not have enough knowledge of what they are doing and this might lead homeowners to bad deals which they regret later.
are good initiatives to help homeowners choose from multiple quotes on a single platform.
The report by the U.S Department of Energys National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests that homeowners need to compare as many solar energy options as possible before picking one.
Customers are more likely to go for big companies when choosing a company for their solar panel installation which mostly leads to disappointment in the solar sector.
The quotes offered by large solar installers and small ones have a huge difference of $2000 to $5000.
Leading consumers to pay more for the service than its worth.
These few companies are asking for long term commitments like 10 to 20 years which is too long for a homeowner.
Certifications like NABCEP will help consumers find better companies to purchase solar energy products with confidence.
Benefits Of Solar Energy
Well begin with a summary of the biggest advantages of solar energy.
1) You can significantly reduce or even eliminate your household electric bills.
One of the most significant benefits of solar energy is also the most obvious: By harnessing energy from the sun, you can cut back your dependence on electric utility, which means youll see a sharp drop off in your monthly electricity bills.
In fact, the average solar system lasts for two to three decades, which means that your return on investment will pay for the system itself over time.
2) Going solar can reduce your carbon emissions.
Another one of the main advantages of solar energy is that its a clean and renewable energy source. What this means is that you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and decrease your environmental impact.
While energy from coal and other fossil fuels tend to create a lot of environmental pollutants, solar energy does not produce any direct pollution at all, which makes it far and away the most environmentally friendly way to power your home.
3) Investing in a solar power system can increase the value of your home.
Solar homes are becoming considerably more appealing, and installing the best solar panels can bump an estates resale value by a decent amount. Note that this helps offset one of the primary cons of solar energy, which is the steep startup cost of solar panels but more on that later.
4) Going solar can make you eligible for rebates and tax incentives.
Also Check: Are Solar Panels Worth It In Michigan
The Future Of Solar Panels And Solar Energy Is Very Bright
The future of solar is really bright, its being used in all aspects of the world. NASA is using it for space exploration or solar farms to produce mass energy.
Australia is using solar for transport, solar farms and now homeowners are taking advantage to slash their energy bills.
It was actually annouced in 2020 by the International Energy Agency that solar power is the cheapest form of electricity.
Solar Panels Require A Lot Of Space
The more electricity you want to offset, the more solar panels you will need. Solar panels require a lot of space on a homes roof. Some roofs are not large enough to fit the number of solar panels necessary to offset your electricity consumption. One alternative is to install some of the solar panels in your backyard as a ground-mounted system. However, this is very expensive because it requires trenching. Which goes back to Con 1. If you dont have the space for all the panels you wanted, you can install less solar panels. This will help ensure that you can stay on a lower-tiered electricity rate.
Also Check: How Many Solar Panels Can Power A House
Solar Energy Is An Intermittent Energy Source
There are three main reasons why solar is considered an intermittent source of power:
All of these factors have been used to argue that solar power cannot be relied on for base load or mission-critical applications. However, this is changing with the emergence of cost-effective battery solutions. Batteries allow homeowners to store their solar power and draw energy from the battery when their solar panels arent producing energy.
The most popular residential solar battery is the Tesla Powerwall, a 13.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Other manufacturers, such as sonnen, LG, and , offer great solar batteries for home energy storage, as well.
Ongoing advances in battery storage are a sign that intermittency may not be a limitation on solar power for long.
Some Solar Panels Use Rare Earth Metals
The name rare earth metals is a bit misleading these elements are actually in ample supply. However, its the extracting of these elements for use in wind turbines and solar cells that has negative impacts on the environment and the humans that mine them.12
Additionally, these rare earth elements carry a political weight to them. From 2014 to 2017, China supplied the U.S. with 80% of its rare earths imports.14 These materials, which are critical to the creation of most modern technology, have the potential to play a giant role in shaping economies around the world.
Luckily, leading technology companies, such as Apple, are exploring methods to recycle these rare earth elements to maintain a steady supply, which keeps costs from inflating because of ever-increasing demand.15
Read Also: How To Negotiate A Solar Lease
What Are Solar Panels Used For
Government and big business corporations are also one of the biggest users of solar panels to generate clean, renewable energy. Businesses will use solar panels to slash the cost of their operation bills and free up cash flow to re-invest in their business.
Governments around the world are taking a big step with solar energy and it is being used to power trains, buses and even the international space station.
For homeowners, the need to have solar panels has become increasingly more popular over the years. This is because solar panels can be used to generate electricity at home.
People are catching on about the endless benefits of rooftop solar. Its exciting to see how popular it has become over the years.
This electricity can then be used to power your electrical appliances in your home. Solar can power anything electrical, from your TV or fridge to your iphone or game console.
Essentially homeowners can become less dependent on the grid. At the same time you can save a significant amount of money on power bills each month.
Solar Power Helps Us Build An Environmentally Friendly Future
Solar panel systems, when used efficiently, allow us to produce electricity without contributing to pollution. By investing in solar, the world over is investing in clean energy that will help reduce the negative effects of traditional energy and offer long-term benefits that help fight climate change.
What do you think gives solar the advantage? What makes it less beneficial compared to other clean energy? Tell us in the comments!
Image credit: via Pexels under CC license
Recommended Reading: How Feasible Is Solar Energy
Solar Panels Contain Hazardous Materials
Most solar panels contain materials that are hazardous to either our health of the environment. This is a key disadvantage but is mostly only applicable during manufacturing and decommissioning/disposal.
Cadmium Telluride is a key compound in Cadmium based thin-film solar cells. This compound can pose a danger during the installation and disposal of thin-film solar panels. Similarly, Copper Indium Gallium Selenide is found in CIGS based thin-film solar cells and is toxic to the lungs. Anti-freeze is even found in solar thermal systems to stop these systems from freezing in winter.
What Makes Solar Panels Worth It
- In places like Australia & America the sun is shining more often than not. This means we can capitalise on harvesting the suns rays to generate our own power. Having this endless supply of UV light definitely makes getting solar panels worth it.
- Government loans and rebates help with the upfront cost, and make solar extremely affordable for homeowners on any income.
- Latest technology in solar panel efficiency means that solar panels are designed to get the most out of the sun. This means you can really take advantage of producing your own energy knowing that you are getting the best performance. It also makes solar more affordable because you can produce more energy for a longer period of time. Brands like SolarEdge are leading in technology of solar panels.
Recommended Reading: How To Become A Solo Traveller