Tag Archive | solar energy advantages

Pros and Cons of Residential Solar Energy System

Harnessing the power of the sun’s ray to create energy to power our house is very appealing. But the question is, “Is everything about solar energy good?”

Looking at the current price of fossil fuel-based electricity, it is quite impractical to convert into solar energy system. However, with the growing concern on the state of the earth, there is really a need to find other means of energy aside from what power plants are using right now. Where do you place yourself?

Whether you are an advocate of clean energy or simply care about where your finances go, looking at the pros and cons of residential solar energy system will help you decide on whether to convert or not.

Pros

Solar energy is free. Did you know that the earth absorbs 174 pettawatts of solar radiation? This means that we have more than enough source of free energy to power every house in the world. Unfortunately, most of our energy is still drawn from oil, gas and coal. But in recent years, there is a steady increase of demand for alternative and renewable energy like solar power. It is estimated that the demand for alternative sources of energy will increase by 53% between 1999 and 2020.

Solar energy is clean, renewable and sustainable. Because the energy created from the sun’s rays does not produce byproducts like those from fossil fuel power plants (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury or carbon dioxide), it does not contribute to pollution. Accordingly, the increase in the use of solar energy and other alternative forms of energy will decrease the demand for greenhouse gases-producing power plants.

The price of photovoltaic cells is steadily decreasing. The demand for solar panels has risen by 57% in the United States in 2007 and is steadily increasing on a monthly basis. The increase in demand results to the improvement of solar technology as a whole. The prices of photovoltaic cells have declined on the average of 4% every year over the past 15 years.

Solar panels can be installed on most rooftops, eliminating the problem of finding a suitable place for installation. Solar panels require little or no maintenance. The original photovoltaic cells technology is used for most satellites orbiting our earth today which are not maintained at all. Many solar panel manufacturers give 25 to 40 years warranty on their products.

Because most areas of the country receive a substantial amount of sunlight throughout the year, solar panels can be installed anywhere.

Many states in the country give tax credits and rebates to households who want to install solar energy system. Check with your state government the cost of these incentives.

Cons

While the prices of PV cells are in constant decline, the cost of installation is substantially high compared to the current electric cost. But the good thing is, after your initial cash out, you don’t have to pay every month on electric bills for the rest of your life.

On areas cities and areas with heavy pollution problem, solar energy may not work as fine. Weather can also affect the efficiency of solar energy. If it is raining, overcast weather or if there is a hurricane, the solar panels’ efficiency is decreased.

You are only producing energy during day time.

These are general pros and cons you might encounter when considering the conversion to solar energy system. It would be best if your decision is based on location, cost, budget, rebates, tax credits and practicality.

Solar Energy Pros and Cons

Below you`ll find a list over the various pros and cons of solar energy. By clicking on one of the blue links, you will be taken further down on the page for more in-depth information. Everything you are about to read is properly referenced at the bottom.

 Advantages of Solar Energy

1. Renewable

Solar energy is a renewable energy source. This means that we cannot run out of solar energy, as opposed to non-renewable energy sources (e.g. fossil fuels, coal and nuclear).

We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA[1]. We have worse things to worry about; in fact, scientists have estimated that the sun itself will swallow Earth 5 billion years from now.

2. Abundant

The potential of solar energy is beyond imagination. The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world.[2]

3. Sustainable

An abundant and renewable energy source is also sustainable. Sustainable energy sources meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, solar energy is sustainable because there is no way we can over-consume.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Harnessing solar energy does generally not cause pollution. However, there are emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation and installation of solar power systems – almost nothing compared to most conventional energy sources. It is clear that solar energy reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. This is an important step in fighting the climate crisis.

5-energy is available all over the world. Not only the countries that are closest to the Equator can put solar energy to use – Germany, for example, has by far the highest capacity of solar power in the world.

6. Reduces Electricity Costs

With the introduction of net metering and feed-in tariff (FIT) schemes, homeowners can now “sell” excess electricity, or receive bill credits, during times when they produce more electricity than what they actually consume.

This means that homeowners can reduce their overall electricity expenses by going solar. Data from One Block Off the Grid reveals that adding solar panels to your home can bring in monthly savings of well above $100 in many states. In Hawaii, residents save on average $64,000 after 20 years!

Nowadays, most homeowners choose leasing or power purchase agreements to finance their solar panels. This drastically reduces, or in some cases completely eliminates, the upfront costs of a solar panel system, and allows homeowners to start saving money from the first day.

If you want to learn more about the advantages specifically related to residential solar photovoltaic panels (generating electricity with solar energy at home), then check out Benefits of Solar Panels.

7. Many Applications

Solar energy can be used for many different purposes. It can be used to generate electricity in places that lack a grid connection, for distilling water in Africa, or even to power satellites in space.

Solar power is also known as “The People`s Power”, which refers to how easily deployable solar panels are at the consumer level (both photovoltaic and solar thermal).

With the introduction of flexible thin-film solar cells, solar power can even be seemingly integrated into the material of buildings (building integrated photovoltaics) – Sharp, a solar panel manufacturer with headquarters in Japan, recently introduced transparent solar power windows.

8. Shared Solar

Because of shading, insufficient space and ownership issues, 1/5 American homes are simply unfit for solar panels.[3] With the introduction of shared solar, homeowners can subscribe to “community solar gardens”, and generate solar electricity without actually having solar panels on their own rooftops.

9. Silent

There are no moving parts involved in most applications of solar power. There is no noise associated with photovoltaics. This compares favorable to certain other green-techs such as wind turbines.

10. Financial Support from Government/State

Government and state rebates have become available both on utility-scale and for the majority of homeowners. This means that the effective costs of solar panels are much less than what they used to be. In some cases, the price of a residential photovoltaic system can be cut more than 50%.

11. Low Maintenance

The majority of today`s solar power systems do not required a lot of maintenance. Residential solar panels usually only require cleaning a couple of times a year. Serious solar manufacturers ship 20- or 25-year warranties with their solar panels.

Technological advancements are constantly being made in the solar power industry. Innovation in nanotechnology and quantum physics has the potential to triple the electrical output of solar panels.

 

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. Expensive

Is solar power really expensive? This is probably the most debatable aspect on the entire solar energy pros and cons list. The driving forces behind the development of solar energy are rooted in politics. Solar power is incentivized to compete against other energy sources on the market. On the other hand, the U.S. government, similarly to the rest of the world, provides incentives to every major energy production market – not just solar.

In 2010, coal received $1,189 billion in federal subsidies and support for electricity production while solar is not far behind at $968 billion.[4]

Nowadays, the best solar panels can in many situations be cheaper than buying electricity from the utility. This wouldn`t have been possible without incentives.

2. Intermittent

Solar energy is an intermittent energy source. Access to sunlight is limited at certain times (e.g. morning and night). Predicting overcast days can be difficult. This is why solar power is not our first choice when it comes to meeting the base load energy demand. However, solar power has fewer problems than wind power when it comes to intermittence.

3. Energy Storage is Expensive

Energy storage systems such as batteries will help smoothen out demand and load, making solar power more stable, but these technologies are also expensive.

Luckily, there`s a good correspondence between our access to solar energy and human energy demand. Our electricity demand peaks in the middle of the day, which also happens to be the same time there`s a lot of sunlight!

4. Associated with Pollution

While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some problems do exist. Some manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride has been traced back to the production of solar panels. These are some of the most potent greenhouse gases and have many thousand times the impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. Transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution.

The bottom line is this: There’s nothing that’s completely risk-free in the energy world, but solar power compares very favorably with all other technologies.

5. Exotic Materials

Certain solar cells require materials that are expensive and rare in nature. This is especially true for thin-film solar cells that are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).

6. Requires Space

Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m²), is essential when looking at how much power can be derived from a certain area of real estate of an energy source. Low power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonably prices.

The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m².[5] This is more than any other renewable energy source, but not comparable to oil, gas and nuclear power.

 

Tesla offers $2.6B for SolarCity to Speed Sustainable Energy

Tesla will buy the solar panel maker SolarCity Corp. in an all-stock deal worth around $2.6 billion.

The deal must still be approved by the government and shareholders at both companies. It’s expected to close in the fourth quarter if it goes through.

Tesla, a 13-year-old maker of electric cars and energy storage systems, said Monday that the tie-up would create a one-stop shop for cleaner energy. With one service call, customers could get their solar panels installed and connected to Tesla’s Powerwall storage unit, which preserves energy for later use. Users could also get the system hooked up to chargers for one of Tesla’s vehicles.

“Musk, the chairman and biggest shareholder of both companies, during a conference call.

But some have questioned the wisdom of the deal, which combines two money-losing companies that already have a lot on their plates. Tesla is working feverishly on its new, lower-cost Model 3 sedan, which is due out by the end of next year, and Musk recently said the company is also working on electric buses and semi-trucks. And SolarCity said Monday that it experienced lower-than-expected residential bookings in the first half of the year, so it’s reducing its full-year guidance for megawatts installed to a range of 900 to 1,000 megawatts. Its previous outlook had been for 1,000 to 1,100 megawatts.

Others have questioned the conflicts of interest in the deal. Musk owns a 26 percent stake in Tesla Motors Inc., based in Palo Alto, California, and a 22.5 percent stake in SolarCity, which is based in nearby San Mateo, California. Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive, runs SolarCity.

SolarCity’s stock slid more than 6 percent to $25.07 in early trading Monday. Tesla’s shares fell 2 percent to $231.01.

But Musk said the companies have a lot of synergies that they can’t take advantage of unless they’re combined.

“The point of the merger is to get rid of the conflicts,” he said. “Until then it’s very limited what we can do unless we are one company.”

Musk said he had no role in establishing the value of the deal.

“I know about as much as you do about how this price was obtained,” he said.