- Renewable & Alternative Energy
Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages - The basics
Solar Power Systems
The usage of solar power, basically energy harnessed from the suns emissions, is growing at almost 20% a year.
Solar energy is a renewable and inexhaustible source of energy. It is friendly to the earth but less friendly to the pocket. To answer this and other 'to use or not to use' questions, here is a list detailing the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.
I had always heard the usual solar power information, that it was green and better for the earth. Truthfully that never really bothered me. I live in Africa and believe we have not yet contributed our quota of greenhouse gasses to global warning.
However when there was a three week power outage where I live, I embarked on this quest to find the advantages and disadvantages out more about of solar energy.
Coal Power Plant circa 1950s
Solar Energy Use
I would like to use solar energy because
Advantages of Solar Energy
1 Solar power is Clean Energy - No green house gas
Most people that go solar, do so because it does not produce the gasses that lead to global warming. The use of solar energy leads to only minimal pollution( from the manufacturing processes needed to produce solar panels etc)
2 Source of Solar Power is free
You will never have to pay any money to God to use the sun. All you have to do is think of how to harness it.
3 Long Lasting
Solar Panels can last 30 years or more before there is any need to replace them. Most manufacturers give warranties of 20 years.
4 Rural Electrification
It is more cost effective to provide electricity to remote and far flung areas via solar energy. Areas like mountaintops and dwellings in the center of large forests are examples.
In most parts of Nigeria, the government has built solar vaccine refrigerators. Over time it has proven to be the only reliable way to ensure the cold-chain is maintained
5 Decentralize Power Resources
Almost everywhere on planet earth gets a period of sunlight daily. The same can not be said for the availability of coal or crude oil. A major advantage of solar energy is that you cannot legislate the sun away from any location.
6 Self - Reliance, Going off grid
While solar is advantageous for people in remote areas who of neccessity must be off-grid, a number of others, even city dwellers just want to be self reliant.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
7 There are no solar spills
Pictures and videos of oil spills are heart rending.
The pollution caused by deepwater horizon oil spill created a fishing dead zone and killed millions of aquatic creatures.
Mistakes happen, but because of the toxicity of crude oil, and the locations where rigs are sited, accidents cause an unprecedented amount of environmental damage.
Switching to solar will help you feel more comfortable each time drowned seagulls are shown on television.
Solar panels and systems have been designed for various specific needs and are flexible.
One of the most interesting is building movable tents/sun shades with solar panels on the roof. So while you rest under the shade, you can recharge your batteries or even the car.
Also see the picture of a mobile solar charger for phone and other small electronic accesories
Start today with Solar Energy
8 Making money off Solar Power
One of the best advantages of solar energy is that you can sell some back to the grid. Call the utilities in your area to find out if they will buy your excess energy.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
If solar power was only good without any drawbacks, many more of us would use it. Here I have tried to put together an objective list detailing the disadvantages of solar energy.
1. Initial Installation cost
This is the most common reason why we demur to use solar power. Installing solar for a few appliances may cost a couple of thousand dollars. To run the entire house (2 level, five bedrooms) may be as much as $30,000 -$40,000.
While the cost of solar power is high, in many countries the government provides subsidies to make it more affordable.
2. Solar power is weather dependent
For someone living at the poles, it may be difficult to survive on solar year round. During the height of winter in most places, there are only a few hours of sunlight or none at all, making it difficult to be solar energy reliant.
3. Collecting Solar energy is not very efficient
While you can build an oil or gas powered energy station on a couple of hectares and it would power an entire town, you can not do the same with solar. You need row upon row of solar panels to collect an appreciable quantity of energy. however the panels are getting more efficient.
4. Night Use
An obvious major disadvantage of solar power is that it cant be harnessed at night. You can buy batteries for energy storage. they are expensive, wear out every 3-5 years and occupy a lot of space.
5. Fragility of solar energy systems
Solar panels are very fragile. Hailstorms will wipe out almost any solar installation. You cant put solar panels on a low room in a residential area with small children and not incur damages. Also extreme heat like in deserts degrades the energy system rapidly leading to frequent panel changes.
Solar Appliances - Solar Food Dehydrator
Smoke Belching Diesel Truck
Solar Power, its advantages and diadvantages
For me, if I had as deep a pocket as I dream off, I would go fully solar.
I would build a house designed from the start to function on solar energy.
Which means I would have angled the roof for efficient harnessing of the suns rays.
The windows would be placed to facilitate maximum air flow. My personal reason would be to be power independent.
As I mentioned, we had a three-week power failure and had to go to a neighbors to charge our phones with a solar charger.
The noise of a hundred petrol generators at night was terrible, the fumes intolerable.
It got me thinking - I live in Africa, with no winter and hours of sunshine everyday, why am I not using solar energy.
What do you think?