As temperatures increase and tension rises, climate change has become a popular topic in recent years. There are tonnes of advantages of solar energy and governments are beginning to realize that a change needs to happen. The energy sources we use on a day to day basis have a massive impact on Earths climate.
Using non-renewable energy sources releases tonnes of greenhouse gases which trap heat in the Earths atmosphere. This will have devastating results if nothing is done about it. Luckily, if we act now we can help prevent increasing the Earths temperature to devastating levels by using renewable energy sources. One of the most popular renewable energy sources is solar power. Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of solar power.
Advantages of Solar Energy
1. Saves Money
Probably the biggest attraction of switching to solar energy is because it can save you money. Although it costs money to purchase and install a solar panel for your house, over time it saves more money than the initial cost and becomes more economically viable. Think of it as purchasing an apartment to rent. You pay the initial cost of the apartment and then rent it out to someone. Over time, you will come into profit and it becomes a solid investment.
Solar panels can generate enough energy to power daily needs like boiling the kettle, watching tv or turning on the lights. If you have the correct heating system, it can even give you hot water every day of the year without the need for other heating costs. It will make you less reliant on energy sources like wood, oil or coal which are bad for the environment.
In some countries, there are grants set up so people will install solar panels. Some grants will pay off all of your cost for solar panels because it is a renewable energy source. In the long term, it will save governments money too if more people turn to renewable energy. It’s a win-win situation!
If you are thinking of building a new home or installing some solar panels, definitely check out with your local politicians to find out more information on these grants.
2. Store electricity
If it is a particularly sunny day and you generate more electricity than you need, you can store it in a battery. These batteries can use this stored electricity and use it for the next day. One massive benefit of solar energy is if you are on vacation somewhere, your solar panel will store all that energy while you are away for when you are home. This means you could have a couple of days of free electricity stored up. In some areas, you can even sell this electricity to the city or donate it to the neighbors around you.
3. Creates Jobs
The energy sector is evergrowing and is creating a wide range of jobs across the globe. The number of jobs in this sector will increase exponentially as time goes on and renewable energy becomes the norm. According to the census in the United States, the energy sector creates more jobs 17 times faster than the overall economy. This is a major win for the government. Not only does this drastically reduce the unemployment rate, but it also helps reduce the release of harmful emissions like greenhouse gases.
Worldwide, there are close to 10 million jobs in the renewable energy industry, including 3 million in the booming solar sector. Most noteworthy, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has even showcased the solar roof which is the roof of a house covered in solar panels. Imagine your home is powered by only the roof above your head?
That is one of the many benefits of solar energy. With all these technological advances, it naturally creates a massive demand for jobs in the energy sector.
4. Reliable Source of Energy
We all know that solar energy is renewable. However, a massive benefit of solar energy is that it’s reliable. Once you get a solar panel, there is zero to minimal maintenance costs. They are built to last. Many solar panel companies come with a lifetime guarantee.
Everyone knows how it feels to have no electricity during a power outage. Solar panels create their own energy, regardless if the main power lines are working or not. So if the power goes during a cold winters day, you’ll be safe.
The costs of non-renewable energy sources like oil, coal, and wood are only going to increase and become more volatile. As these sources become depleted, there will be higher competition for them and naturally, their price will increase.
As of today, the cost of a barrel of oil is around $68. What price will this be in 10, 20 or 30 years when there are fewer oil sources? This is the opposite when it comes to renewable sources like solar energy. The higher the demand for solar, the cheaper it will get.
In 2009, the average price per watt or solar panel was $2.60. As of today in 2018, the average is at a cost of just $0.53 per watt. In contrast, in 1977, it was a staggering $76.67 per watt. It is only going to get cheaper and cheaper as time goes on and the demand increases.
5. Improves Public Health
It goes without saying that if the quality of our air improves, the general health of the public will too. If we look at China and other parts of Asia for example. Many places there are so badly polluted that there is a constant ‘smog’ over some populated areas.
This smog is a type of air pollution caused by the release of greenhouse gases. One of the main contributors to this in these areas is from motor vehicles. As a result, it is highly toxic to humans and can cause very severe sickness, shortened life or death. This is one of the main reasons why people in Asia wear face masks.
Inhaling these gases for prolonged periods of time can have serious repercussions. However, changes can be made to help improve areas that suffer from this and improve their health. Replacing coal factories with solar farms is one way of doing so.
In recent years, China has become the biggest producer of renewable energy. China alone has over 3 million jobs in that sector. It will take time for places like China, India and major cities around the globe to revert the damage caused by these harmful gases.
There are countless benefits of solar energy and improving health is certainly a major one.
One benefit of solar panels is that they are extremely versatile and we are seeing that more and more often. First of all, solar panels don’t have to be just used for houses or building, they can also be used for a range of other devices too.
In recent years, solar panels are being implemented on many consumer electronics. Some examples are:
- Cell phones
- Water heaters
You can dig deep into some unique projects with solar panels too. As a result, some people have created some very interesting stuff with them. Grab a Raspberry Pi and a small solar panel and the world is your oyster!
As solar panels become more efficient, it is only a matter of time before we see these being implemented on everyday objects like cars effectively.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
1. High initial costs
Although you will certainly save money as time goes on and the cost of solar panels has drastically decreased in recent years, it is still a hefty amount to pay up front. Depending on where you live, it can cost anywhere between $15,000 – $25,000. Even if you can find a federal grant somewhere, it will still be a large sum.
It is certainly a safe investment, it just has a very long ROI.
You would also have to pay for installation of the device and in the unlikely case if it was to get damaged. Although, most companies will come with a warranty. If you want to store your electricity in a battery, you would have to pay extra for that too. The battery can be particularly useful if there aren’t many people in the house or you travel often.
For many people the cost may be a bit too much and waiting for the price to drop in the coming years may be a smarter option for you.
2. Efficiency Depends on Time and Location
Your solar panel efficiency massively depends on your location and the time of day/year. For example, if you live somewhere like Norway, an investment in a solar panel might not be the smartest option. Perhaps wind energy may be more feasible and be worth looking into. Whereas if you live somewhere that gets lots of sunlight year-round, it’s something worth considering.
Simply put, you will take in far less solar energy at night time than the daytime. So if it was a particularly cloudy day and there wasn’t much sunshine, you may be dependent on other sources of energy.
The average amount of energy taken in by the solar panel varies depending on the season of the year. Daylight is in an abundance when compared to the amount in the winter time. So you may need to rely on other sources of energy.
Again, there are a lot of variables to consider so I would suggest researching solar panels in your areas before buying one.
3. Difficulties with Solar Panels
If you have already built a house and are looking to install solar panels on it, it may not be a viable option for you. Some roofs are not suitable for solar panels and the orientation of your house is one of the biggest factors when installing a solar panel.
Depending on where the sun rises and sets in your location, it may be in an awkward spot for solar panels. For solar panels to be fully effective they need to be getting as much direct sunlight as possible. Whereas you may only be getting an hour or two, which wouldn’t be worthwhile.
They also need a large amount of room on the roof. Over time, they will become smaller and more efficient as technology advancements are made. But for now, they need a lot of space.
Furthermore, if you live in a city where there are high buildings, they could block the amount of direct sunlight you receive and thus, reducing the efficiency of them.
If you plan on moving in the long term, they probably wouldn’t be worth investing in as it takes a long time to get the money back that you spend originally.
Solar panels are certainly becoming more efficient and more affordable as time goes on, especially when we compare the cost per watt to even just a couple of years ago. We can only imagine how much the price will drop in 5 or 10 years.
The advantages of solar energy certainly outway the disadvantages of solar energy, nobody can argue with that.
Whether or not you should invest in one vastly depends on your financial status and location.
If you are uncertain, see if there are any grants available to you or else wait a few years for the price to drop even further.