Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Solar energy, unfortunately, is not a perfect renewable energy source. It has some flaws. This article is about the disadvantages of solar energy which you should consider them before getting down the solar energy business. You’ve read our pros & cons essay about solar energy, and if you want more details about the disadvantages of solar energy, this article is what you need.
Also, we posted in a previous article advantages and disadvantages of solar power.
Due to the concerns because of high oil prices and climate change, people are seeking another energy source. Solar energy comes the most of the people’s minds first because it is renewable and green energy.
The disadvantages of Solar power are not so many, in fact. The primary disadvantage of Solar energy is that we can’t use the sun’s radiation 24 hours a day. Energy production by solar panels stops when the sun goes down. If the necessity of the electricity occurs during the night, we can’t get it directly from the sun (unless we store it within the batteries).
Location is Important for Solar Power
Your location is one of the main factors in determining the profit of solar power. Every location in the world gets a different amount of sunlight. The efficiency of solar power drops dramatically the further you get from the equator.
If you are living in a place which is far away from the equator, for example, Canada and Russia, you get lower sunlight. Nevertheless, the distance of the equator is not the only factor here. In locations like Hawaii, 277 days per year is cloudy which makes the solar energy efficiency lower.
Solar efficiency is also determined by the season. In the summer you can generate more electricity easily. While in the winter, you might not generate enough electricity to supply your demands.
Lastly, if you are living in a windy, snowy or stormy place, these weather conditions are also threads to solar energy generation, especially to solar panels.
For homeowners that want to install solar panels, you can install the solar panels on the roof easily, so you don’t need to find an appropriate place for it. For companies, however, they want to produce a lot of power. So they need to find a vast installation area to provide electricity continuously.
Reliability is Essential for Solar Energy
Because solar energy generation requires the sun, you can’t get electricity during the night. To use the energy that you gathered during the night, you have to store your energy. You need batteries for that, and they are expensive. Hurricanes, clouds, and storms also reduce the efficiency of the sun’s energy by blocking light.
Qualitative Reasoning Group at Northwestern University said that most solar panels on people’s houses convert only 14% of their available energy into power. Even the latest and productive solar panels convert only 22% of their available energy into power.
Because of the second law of thermodynamics, solar panels will never work with 100% efficiency. The highest theoretical maximum efficiency without tracking the sun is 55%, which means solar power technology needs so many advancements.
Pollution & Environmental Impact of Solar Energy
The environmental impacts associated with solar power are land and water use and pollution, habitat loss, and use of highly hazardous materials in the manufacturing process.
Solar panels compounds include cadmium and lead, extremely toxic metals. Gallium arsenic, copper-indium-gallium-dissidence, hydroelectric acid, sulfuric acid, nitrite acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and acetone are the other toxic substances to produce the solar panels.
In the United States, manufacturers are required to make sure these high-value substances are recycled rather than disposed of. However, in other countries such as China, Malaysia, and Taiwan, these hazardous materials are being disposed of in fields. They pollute the air, water, and soil.
Expensive Energy Storage
Expensive energy storage is a disadvantage of solar energy. Storing large amounts of electrical energy is the major hold-back in producing solar power on the industrial scale. At present, the batteries for storing solar energy as an electrical form are very expensive.
Solar Energy & Power Has High Initial Cost
The average price of solar energy systems that produce between 4 Kw and 8 Kw is between $ 15,000 – $ 29,000. These costs include solar panels, inverts, mounting hardware and cabling, installation, permits, repairs, monitoring and maintenance costs, and additional costs.
Note that this does not include a battery storage system at an additional cost. If you plan to complete your energy needs by connecting to the local power grid, you do not need battery storage systems.
As previously said, taking into account the cost of a battery storage system, it requires a potential total cost of between 33,300 and $ 47,300 to provide enough energy for the average four-bedroom house, day and night. In addition, depending on the climate and your location, you may need to reduce electricity usage.
It is also important to know when the investment will be paid back to you. For an $ 18,000 system, it takes about 20 years. This is not very suitable for most people.
The amount of payback period is not the issue to be looked at, but anything that could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is worth trying. However, most governments have contacted solar panel manufacturers to reduce solar panel prices. Today, the average cost of a solar panel is $ 0.65 per watt. The same solar panels were selling $ 0.74 per watt just a year ago. This is an important commitment to involve everyone in the use of solar energy.
Although solar energy is considered as an inexhaustible renewable resource, it is disadvantageous because it is inefficient because it is not suitable enough to use this energy at the moment. However, solar power technology is still in its growth phase and many good ideas have not yet taken place.
For example, research on energy storage has found two different ways to store electrical energy in the future.
Scientists are creating flow batteries that use small organic molecules that help rhubarb plants store energy, called quinones, rather than the toxic and very expensive metal vanadium ions. Researchers estimate that this technology could reduce the current cost to $ 0.0025 per kilowatt hour from $ 0.02 per kilowatt hour.
The other thing that is really clever is that the solar energy produced to form methanol is taken from carbon dioxide instead of electricity. The plan is that a plant burns methanol as fuel and can convert it into the carbon dioxide that will be recovered and stored. The goal is to reduce the emissions by recycling carbon instead of escaping into the atmosphere.
One thing is certain. There is a long way to go before solar energy is economical, efficient and environmentally friendly.