There is enough solar energy that hits out planet every day that we receive enough to power all of our needs for an entire year as a global population. In just one year, with the right technology, we could give ourselves 300+ years of a solar power stockpile. The advantages and disadvantages of solar energy are clear: though we do not have that technology as of yet, the energy potential that warms us up every today is something that should not be ignored.
What Are the Advantages of Solar Energy?
1. It is a renewable energy source that is freely available to everyone.
You don’t have to worry about paying a monthly utility bill or running out of a stockpile of fossil fuels when you’re using solar energy. It is available every day in some way, either through its light or heat, and that allows for the possibility of free energy once panels are installed to collect it.
2. It is an abundant energy source.
It is possible to install light and heat systems today that both collect power from the sun. This energy can then be stored into batteries so that a completely off-grid experience can be obtained. For a one-time installation cost that continues to head downward in price, it has become possible for households to become completely energy independent.
3. It reduces long-term energy costs.
We often look at the costs of energy consumption in monetary terms, but solar energy does far more than this. It reduces our need to have fossil fuels mined or manufactured. It reduces the number of emissions are energy burning needs create. It eliminates the threat of an energy-related accident such as what occurred at Chernobyl. Solar energy is safe, effective, and it costs very little to collect it.
4. It is an environmentally friendly energy resource.
The primary source of emissions that is produced by solar energy is through the creation of the solar panels which collect it. Although the cost to make up the emissions can be rather low, especially with top-end panels, every panel created will eventually have the opportunity to offset the initial fossil fuel investment so that the environment can be given a break.
5. It has low maintenance requirements.
Once solar panels are installed, they require very little ongoing maintenance. Today’s solar energy systems for personal use often come with warranties of up to 25 years.
What Are the Disadvantages of Solar Energy?
1. There are toxic compounds produced in solar panel creation.
The most toxic compound that is used in the manufacturing process for solar energy is silicon tetrachloride. Creating it requires the combination of hydrochloric acid with metallurgical-grade silicon, which then react with added hydrogen, and this creates a large amount of waste that must be recycled. Carbon emissions are also part of the creation process and must be effectively controlled.
2. It is not always affordable to switch to solar energy.
Right now, the installed cost of a solar energy system for the average home is about $8 per watt. This means if a homeowner was to install a 5 kilowatt system, the final price tag would be around $30,000. There are some utility companies that offer incentives and subsidies, while tax credits may also be an option, but the minimum cost in the example above with all incentives will still be about $15,000.
3. Some solar energy is intermittent.
If you are using the cheaper light-based solar energy option for a home or business, then there will be days when no energy can be collected. Overcast skies, storms, and other blockage events will prevent the solar panels from doing their job effectively. This can mean for an off-grid property; some days may wind up having no power at all.
4. Solar energy requires a lot of space to operate on a large scale.
For solar energy to work for multiple homes, several acres of space are required in order to collect the energy offered by the sun. One of the largest solar panel systems in the world right now encompasses 1,000 acres of space. This is land that could be used for other purposes.
The advantages and disadvantages of solar energy show us that the potential is there to collect an enormous power reserve. Our focus in this area must be to refine manufacturing processes to limit environmental threats and potentially toxic waste byproducts so that we can all enjoy clean, affordable, and abundant energy from our sun.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.