So, you’re thinking about going solar and wondering if a 10kW system is right for your home. Well, you’ve come […]
Over the past 50 years, our environment has undergone a gradual and increasing deterioration, due to increases and exploitative human activity. Fossil-based energy sources like coal, petroleum and natural gas severely hurt our surroundings.
Additionally, the rapid rate at which these energy sources are being depleted poses a worrying question mark. There is a great need to explore alternative sources of energy, which are not detrimental to the globe and at the same time convenient to use with minimum disadvantages. Solar Energy is a great example of such a form of energy.
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What Is Solar Energy?
Before we dive into Pros and Cons of solar energy, Let’s know what actually it is. Simply put, solar energy is the energy that we capture from the sun.
The sun’s radiation contains an excessive amount of energy and breakthroughs in technology have allowed us to harness this energy and convert it to practical forms that can be used by human beings such as electrical energy, thermal energy, mechanical energy, etc.
Many objects that people use on a daily basis employ and take advantage of solar energy. These include watches, calculators, toys, traffic lights, etc. Satellites and space probes were the first units to operate completely on solar energy.
Nowadays, technology is being developed to manufacture all types of devices that run on solar energy, including solar cars, aeroplanes, air conditioners!! Currently, there is a global effort to introduce and adapt the use of solar energy for domestic use.
Solar panels (devices that capture solar energy and produce electricity) are being installed in houses and generate electricity to run the households. Solar Energy is often said to be the energy of the future.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb and one of the most celebrated scientists of all time, once said, “I’d put my money on the Sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that”
When we discuss the impact of solar energy, present and future, it is very important to address the various pros and cons associated with the use of solar energy.
|Solar Energy is a Renewable Source of energy||Solar Energy is an intermittent source of energy|
|Solar energy is a sustainable, environment-friendly Source of energy||Manufacturing Solar Panels is expensive|
|Solar energy can be used for multiple functions||Solar Energy is responsible for generating a lot of waste|
|Solar energy is omnipresent||Solar Panels require a large area|
|Solar Energy use could be highly economical||Solar Energy for domestic use is inaccessible in several regions|
|Solar Energy can help a nation achieve Energy Independence||Solar Energy requires a major investment|
|Solar energy requires less maintenance|
|Solar Energy has minimal safety hazards|
Pros Of Solar Energy
➜ Solar Energy is a Renewable Source of energy
The sun is the largest burning star in our galaxy and is estimated to keep burning for thousands if not millions of years to come.
This simple fact means we will never run out of solar energy, whereas other sources of energy such as fossil fuels(coal, petroleum, natural gas) and nuclear energy, are all in limited quantities within the earth and could one day end.
Thus, we could depend on Solar Energy for the rest of our lives without any fear of its depletion.
➜ Solar energy is a sustainable, environment-friendly Source of energy
The fact that the contribution of solar energy to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is negligible makes it one the cleanest sources of energy and far more environmentally friendlier than fossil fuels, which emit excessive amounts of greenhouse gases and pollute the air.
As more and more people use solar energy, the carbon footprint of individuals will diminish drastically and create a positive effect on the environment.
➜ Solar energy can be used for multiple functions.
Solar energy is not only used to generate electricity for households or companies. It can be used as a source of heat generation with solar heat pumps and solar water heaters, and could also be used for other purposes like charging batteries-as in calculators, watches, etc.
Satellites operate on solar energy as well. With advancing technology, we can expect to find several other implementation methods for solar energy in everyday devices and systems, like solar-powered airplanes, solar-powered boats..
Additionally, solar energy production could be highly economical. One reason is the adoption in most countries of a practice called Net Metering.
Net Metering simply means that the electricity bill that one household pays will correspond to the net difference between the energy used by the household from the utility grid and that generated by the household solar panels.
This procedure leads to great savings for households, and if the usage is maintained below generation, the owners might also earn money!
Another reason solar energy is becoming more economical comes from the fact that prices for fossil fuels are getting higher, with fossil fuel extraction methods becoming more complicated.
Replacing fossil fuels with solar energy (or any other such energy source), can in such a case, be extremely economical. Alternatively, a decrease in the demand for fossil fuel may also help curb the increasing prices.
➜ Solar Energy can help a nation achieve Energy Independence
A country is energy independent if it does not rely on any other country for its energy supplies (mainly in fossil fuels-crude oil or petroleum ).
Solar Energy has the potential of fulfilling a country’s energy requirements, as the energy can be produced locally, and that sources do not need to travel great distances.
Many countries, which have historically never been energy independent, are expecting to reach that stage by as early as the 2030s, all due to the growth and development of resources related to Solar Energy.
➜ Solar energy requires less maintenance.
Solar energy is extremely easy to harness and doesn’t require any heavy machinery. The entire setup consists of almost no moving parts and thereby requires very little maintenance.
This makes solar advantageous even when compared to other renewable sources such as wind energy, nuclear energy, etc.,as these types need to be continually maintained.
➜ Solar Energy has minimal safety hazards.
Almost all energy sources have safety hazards associated with their usage and may pose a great risk. For example, despite the overall safety of nuclear plants, leakage of radioactive nuclear fuel in case of an error or natural disaster may lead to a large-scale human and health disaster.
Solar energy, on the other hand, is very safe, with low-risk factors making solar power the most preferred choice of energy source.
Cons Of Solar Energy
➜ Solar Energy is an intermittent source of energy
Energy could be harnessed from the sun for as long as radiation from the sun reaches the earth. This ultimately means that you can’t fully generate solar energy neither during the nighttime nor during cloudy days.
That’s what makes solar energy an intermittent source of energy. This implies that societies can’t fully rely on solar energy for a 100% of the energy requirements and always require a backup power source.
Luckily, solar energy captured during daytime and during favourable weather conditions can be stored for later use, and most of the solar systems currently used employ such mechanisms.
➜ Manufacturing Solar Panels is expensive
To manufacture solar panels, special grade silicon is required, which is different from the easily available crude silicon. This special grade silicon is quite rare and therefore expensive.
Additionally, silver is used to interconnect the cells, which adds to the cost of manufacturing solar panels. This also makes solar panels quite expensive.
➜ Solar Energy requires a major investment
For households to switch to solar energy, solar panels have to be installed. To have a complete operating solar system, the installation process is quite expensive, due to the price of the panels and of the system components.
Although the investment is a solid and profitable one with guaranteed payback from subsidy in electricity bills, many households may not be able to afford the initial investment.
➜ Solar Energy is responsible for generating a lot of waste
Solar Energy is perhaps the cleanest form of energy. However, solar panels are responsible for generating a lot of waste. Disposing improperly of solar panels can result in the release of toxic compounds such as Lead, Cadmium, etc.
Solar panels are claimed to produce 300 times the waste per unit of energy produced as compared to Nuclear Power Plants and associated wastes. This is a serious cause of concern.
Although a lot of research is underway on how to make the disposal of solar panels better and more effective, the fact remains that Solar energy may generate a lot of waste.
➜ Solar Panels require a large area
Solar panels require a large area for their setup. This often comes as a setback to the setup of solar panels in several regions where such a large space is unavailable.
➜ Solar Energy for domestic use is inaccessible in several regions
In many regions worldwide, solar panels are not available for domestic use, which causes a hindrance to the development and growth of solar energy. Just like every sword has two edges, solar energy has both advantages as well as disadvantages.
In general, solar energy is better than other alternative sources in several ways. And despite the setbacks and cons listed above, the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages.
With proper research and policy programs, solar energy can be greatly developed on a very wide scale, offering a vast array of social, economic and environmental
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