The benefits and hazards of adopting devices to catch and utilise light energy from the sun are referred to as the advantages and downsides of solar energy.
All of the solar energy that reaches Earth:
- The remaining 43% is utilized to heat the atmosphere and the ground.
- When reflected on Earth, 35% are returned to space.
- Evaporation, precipitation, and condensation contribute for 22% of the water cycle.
- 0.2% is used in the generation of wind.
- Plants use 0.02 percent in the photosynthesis process.
- Use of urban space.
- Low maintenance cost.
- Diversity of applications.
- Technological development
- High initial investment cost.
- Requires storage systems (batteries).
- Low energy production efficiency.
- Lack of information and technical support.
|For the environment|
- Alternative energy.
- Renewable energy.
- Low emission of greenhouse gases
- It depends on the weather.
- Variability of sunlight.
- Affected by air pollution.
|For the planet|
- Taking advantage of desert regions.
- Worldwide availability.
- Access to secluded sites.
- Large tracts of land for large-scale production.
- Disposal and recycling of toxic materials.
- Ideal production sites (deserts) far from populated centers.
Advantages of solar energy
- Source of renewable energy: In practical terms, the sun’s energy is inexhaustible.
- Alternative energy source: Solar panels (photovoltaic systems) can be utilized in homes, industries, and other facilities, reducing reliance on fossil fuel energy.
- A wide range of uses: Solar energy can be used for a variety of reasons, including: Photovoltaic systems are used to generate power (solar panels). And to generate heat solar energy is used in thermal systems to heat water and facilities. Uses are determined by the technology at hand.
- Utilization of urban space: Photovoltaic or thermal systems can be installed on urban structures, building rooftops, and dwellings, with this area used for the generation of electrical and/or thermal energy.
- Low operating costs: Once established, solar energy collector devices require little maintenance.
- Technological advancement: The solar energy industry’s technological progress is constantly advancing. One area that has to be improved is the production of photovoltaic cells that are more economically attractive, durable, and efficient.
- Use of desert areas: Deserts are regarded as inhospitable environments, essentially abandoned due to the difficulty of survival when not adapted. They are, nevertheless, a fantastic alternative for using solar energy all year.
- Low greenhouse gas emissions: When compared to fossil fuels, the power generated by solar energy is virtually pollution-free. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced for two reasons. Once installed, photovoltaic systems do not emit greenhouse gases by receiving electricity in this manner, the need of fossil fuels is reduced.
- Global and beyond availability of solar energy advantages and disadvantages: Solar panels power the International Space Station (Credits NASA). Solar energy is available all across the world since the sun illuminates every nook and cranny of the planet. Even in the vacuum of space. The solar arrays on the International Space Station, for example, provide all of the electrical power required by participants of various expeditions.
- Access to energy in distant areas: Photovoltaic systems are an acceptable choice in some areas when access to the public electricity grid is restricted. For example: To operate irrigation systems in fields, road lights, emergency call booths on highways, navigation systems and buoys, hydraulic pumps, and electric fencing.
Disadvantages of solar energy
- Vast swaths of land: The technology required to collect and produce power on a big scale from solar energy necessitates enormous tracts of land, which would compete with land for agriculture or forestry.
- Significant initial investment: The initial investment in purchasing a photovoltaic system is high because it requires, in addition to the solar modules, an inverter, a charge controller, wiring, batteries, and installation.
- Weather dependent: The effectiveness of capturing solar energy reduces significantly on overcast and wet days. For example, on a bright summer day, the rainiest days in winter create less than a tenth of what may be obtained on a rainy day in January.
- Variability of sunlight: Throughout the day, the angle at which sunlight falls on a specific place fluctuates. It is challenging to maximize solar energy in fixed solar energy collection equipment throughout the day. The amount of sunlight changes based on the time of year. The number of daylight hours in tropical countries is essentially constant throughout the year; however, temperate-zone countries experience less hours of light throughout fall and winter.
- Population centers located far from power producing hubs: Ideal production sites, such as deserts, are located far from densely inhabited areas. Although these facilities generate the most efficient power, the transfer of this power to customers is a logistical challenge.
- Toxic material disposal and recycling: The most serious environmental issue related with photovoltaic systems is the use of toxic chemicals in their manufacture, such as cadmium sulfide and gallium arsenide. Because these chemicals are extremely toxic and can linger in the environment for millennia, identifying and recycling cell materials is a major issue.
- Low energy production efficiency: Only about a fifth of the solar energy that hits photovoltaic panels is converted into electricity. Although different materials can be used to boost efficiency, the economic cost is very high. However, due to the physics of existing technology, the efficiency cannot surpass 30%.
- Affects light transmission: Air pollution, smog, and dust all interfere with light transmission. As a result, in cities with high levels of air pollution, the effectiveness of solar panels will be lowered.
- Is reliant on backup systems: A backup system is required to sustain current levels of electricity consumption. A system, similar to batteries, that saves energy when there is sunlight and uses it when there is no sunlight. Backup systems, either a generator or a connection to the city’s ordinary electric grid.
- A lack of information and technical assistance: There is a great deal of misunderstanding regarding how solar-powered power generation systems function and how much power they create. This is evident in the fact that only a few businesses control the systems market.
If any equipment or solar panels are damaged, individual customers must concentrate on the technical help of the selling company, which has relatively little technical competence.