7 Jul 2012
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SOLAR ENERGY
Article by Justinbaker
Several villages, cities and governments are trying to lower dependency on traditional sources of energy and are using wind, water and the sun instead. Every variant has something different to offer, thus a tabulation of solar energy pros and cons is useful to determine its place among other options.
Solar energy is a fast-evolving market, and that should count as one of the foremost advantages of solar energy. Much technological advance has been made in solar products in the century and a half since the idea was first conceived. It?s in the interest of the consumer to create a balance sheet on the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.
SOLAR ENERGY ADVANTAGES ? THE ECONOMIC ANGLE
Indeed, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the pros and cons of solar energy is the fact that solar power is a renewable source. This is one of the advantages of solar energy that fits both the financial and the environmental bill. Let?s tackle the monetary aspect first.
While improvements in solar systems have made solar power more financially accessible, the initial payment is nonetheless high. However, as solar energy becomes more affordable with each passing year, another one of solar energy advantages is that after the initial payment is recovered, solar energy is actually cost-free. The electricity bill decreases, and savings are long-term. Moreover, government incentives definitely sweeten the deal; case in point: the National Solar Mission. Another one of the economic advantages of solar energy is no zero transmission / transport cost, since the energy is produced when consumed.
Taking the economic angle a little further, much of India?s dependence on foreign oil can be reduced, which in turn would save crores of rupees. India has excellent solar insolation figures ? around 3000 hours per year, which can be put to use in an ultimately cost-effective and sustainable channel. For India, at least, the advantages of solar energy far outweigh the disadvantages of solar energy.
SOLAR ENERGY ADVANTAGES ? THE ENVIRONMENTAL ANGLE
Another huge benefit of solar power, which definitely tips the balance of pros and cons of solar energy in its favour, is the clean usage of sun?s photons. This means of power is environment-friendly: no polluting substances are emitted, no depletion of a precious resource, and no contribution to the already gross effect of global warming. The clean and sustainable nature is one of the driving advantages of solar energy. This way, oil and coal can be put to other uses.
SOLAR ENERGY ADVANTAGES ? THE APPLICATION ANGLE
Cost and environment are only two areas where solar energy shines; another is the actual installation of solar devices. Since solar energy products have no need to be linked to the main power grid and only require proper equipment, the independence of solar power is another plus in the tabulation of solar energy pros and cons.
This is one of the reasons why street solar lighting and providing solar-powered electricity to remote access areas are two of the favourite solar energy uses in India; the government is clearly using solar energy advantages in its favour. The independent nature of solar energy allows customers to cater to individual needs and costs. DIY solar panel systems are also appearing in markets. The low maintenance and long-lasting nature of solar cells allows even more autonomy.
A further reach into the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy shows that solar energy is not a huge out-of-reach phenomenon. From cooking to heating water, from cooling and ventilation to electricity generation, solar energy can be used from the most menial of tasks to the greatest of tasks, like a solar car.
Thus, the applications of solar energy are far and wide, from industry to household usage, from architecture and urban planning to rural and remote area employment.
As for solar energy disadvantages, there are benefits and drawbacks to each kind of energy resource; solar power is no different, and there are both pros and cons of solar energy. Onwards, therefore, to discuss the disadvantages of solar energy:
SOLAR ENERGY DISADVANTAGES ? THE ECONOMIC ANGLE
As has been already mentioned above, the initial investment cost is still quite high, though decreasing every year. Therefore, one of the disadvantages of solar energy is the rather long cost recovery period.
Yet another one of solar energy disadvantages is that the cost of producing a unit of sun-based energy is still significantly higher than a coal-based electrical unit. There is still much time left before solar energy reaches the same cost-efficient status of coal-based electricity.
SOLAR ENERGY DISADVANTAGES ? THE AVAILABILITY ANGLE
Continuing the discussion on advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, one of the biggest disadvantages of solar energy is the question of sun?s ?availability?. Only some parts of the world are strong contenders for all-year round solar power, though small scale production also exists. Location of the sun is another issue, since it changes position throughout the day. CSPs and other devices aside, it leads to another one of solar energy disadvantages: solar panels require large areas for installation, to be best able to harness the maximum.
Furthermore no sun means no solar energy: another black mark against solar energy. Night-time, clouds, rain, air pollution and wind all incapacitate solar panels.
PROS AND CONS OF SOLAR ENERGY – THE BALANCE SHEET
The above states several main advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, and it can be easily seen that solar power claims more gains than losses. However, high initial costs remain solar energy?s greatest weakness.
The fact that there are solar energy pros and cons to begin with only strengthens the accessibility of this form of renewable energy. Researchers are tying to lower the economic disadvantages of solar energy through enhancing efficiency, to make it even more financially approachable.
Knowing solar energy has several advantages over disadvantages, the need of the hour is to put aside discussion on solar energy pros and cons and to focus on expanding the solar product market independently of oil ups and downs.
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