Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that’s vital to our existence. It provides numerous benefits to everyday life including helping to grow the food we eat whilst influencing weather patterns. In more recent times, man has developed ways in which we can use solar energy to generate electricity or even provide a source of hot water for our homes and this has been made possible by the introduction of solar panels.
When we use solar energy to generate electricity or provide a source of hot water, there are sometimes a handful of disadvantages associated with this process. This article takes a look at these disadvantages of solar energy.
Solar Energy Disadvantages
The below are some of the key disadvantages of using solar energy to generate electricity and/or a source of hot water for our homes.
1. High Upfront Cost
One of the main disadvantages is the high cost of the equipment used to harness solar energy. Solar panels still remain a costly alternative to the use of readily available fossil fuel technologies. Although installing solar panels to your home requires a high upfront investment, solar panels will often pay for themselves over future years due to reduced energy bills and the possibility of selling excess electricity back to the grid.
2. Large Surface Area Required
Even a residential solar energy system requires a large surface area of solar panels in order for the system to be efficient in providing a source of reliable electricity. This may be a disadvantage in areas where space is at a premium (such as inner cities). In many cases, homeowners install solar panels to their roof, which often has enough space to accommodate such systems.
3. Sunny Area Required
Solar panels require reliable quantities of sunshine to work efficiently. This means that your country of residence should be situated in an ideal part of the world that receives adequate sunshine and also that the location of your solar panel installation receives a significant amount of sunshine (for example, not a shaded area).
Pollution can be a disadvantage to solar panels, as pollution can degrade the efficiency of photovoltaic cells (by reducing the levels of solar energy reaching the cells) in the same way that clouds do. This particular disadvantage is more of an issue with older solar cell components as newer designs integrate technologies to overcome the worst of these effects.
4. No Night Time Functionality
Solar energy is only useful to residential solar energy systems during the day. During the night, expensive solar panels are unable to generate electricity due to the lack of solar energy. To overcome this, some systems utilise solar battery chargers that are able to store varying quantities of solar electricity for use during the night.
It should be pointed out that some industrial solar power plants make use of a technology where a particular type of salt is super-heated to a molten state by solar energy during the day. During the night this salt remains molten (even though it cools significantly) and can still be used to generate electricity.
So there we have some of the main disadvantages of using solar energy to generate electricity for our homes and businesses. Although the negatives mentioned above may put the majority of people off the installation of solar panels, the advantages of these systems can far outweigh these disadvantages.