There are many advantages of solar energy!
Your solar power investments return more money to your wallet than they initially cost. They have a definite payback.
Here Are Some Major Advantages Of Solar
There are advantages of solar and negative aspects as well. I’ll get to disadvantages of solar energy later, but let’s acknowledge that using solar power has a lot of positives.
The positive aspects of solar energy include it being:
Financial Advantages Of Solar Power
Most things that save money or generate some level of interest and curiosity. You may pique that interest knowing there is no such thing as a free lunch. Solar power after installation gives you consistent financial savings from not paying for self consumed electricity. Free access to sun produced electrical power are among the advantages of solar and repeatedly it’s a motivator for installing a solar PV system. You get satisfaction from powering your home with solar electricity you’ve generated instead of purchasing electricity from the grid.
Size your solar PV system to match your home consumption and that will optimise the investment payback period. Utilising the highest percentage of the electricity your solar system generates will usually save you the most money. This means you need to do your financial analysis to know whether better returns come from a solar panel with grid back up or with energy storage in batteries.
Don’t rely on the Utility feed-in tariff that’s disbursed for excess solar electricity you export to the grid. Make your calculations for capital repayment of the solar system and payback period on the self consumption savings. Electricity prices differ from state to state and whatever electricity your panels generate will reduce your bill. Any tariff offset will reduce it even further.
Environmental Advantages Of Solar Power
The contemporary electrical power production method in remote areas has been to use diesel generators.
Solar power kit options provide a great economic response for producing electricity that needed at remote locations.
The remote location environment benefits from installing a mini grid or distributed power grid for power to a community. There are significant financial and environmental costs with avoiding long transmission lines into a wilderness area.
Solar energy is especially appropriate for peer-to-peer energy sales across smart energy networks. In a remote distributed power grid the future for power generation could be distributed around among the networks.
Construction and maintaining solar in remote areas provide a spreading of green jobs. Having people living near the source of power generation means reducing carbon footprints of construction and electrical maintenance even further. A distributed solar power mini grid system allows communities to become self-sufficient with lower exposure to ever-increasing energy costs.
Solar electricity can be produced locally where it is needed so long-distance fuel transportation is only required for the set-up. After construction of the solar power station the requirement of transported fuel lessens into commuter vehicle uses.
Those advantages of solar energy generate considerable savings for electrical energy production costs. The construction therefore reduces the community’s dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production.
My Observations Of Micro-Solar Power In Uganda
Uganda is a land locked country with a population of around 40 million people. The average family annual income comes in under $US1000. The country is a safe refuge to millions of refugees escaping violence in nearby countries.
I only spent six months in Uganda with UNWFP so my knowledge is limited. People living in Uganda are humble, friendly, and are among the poorer citizens of the world. Rural villages have limited access to many of the basics that we of third world countries take for granted. Ready access to potable clean water supply (women carry it in 20 litre containers from their village well’s pump), hygienic toilet facilities, access to quality education and health care, a regular income, access to technology and electricity.
Access to electricity is a challenge. Power is unreliable and the cost of generated electricity continues to be high and access to power, especially for those in the rural areas with limited resources find affordability cost of electricity too high. Where power exists many buy it using pay-as-you-go systems.
Uganda’s current overall electricity access rate is about 22%. The rural access is around 12% and urban access is higher at 52%. Many Ugandans live in rural settlements using kerosene and other solid biofuels for cooking and light.
The government has commitments for investment in rural electrification initiatives using alternative renewable sources of energy. On the Nile there are new private hydropower dams projects being commissioned in 2019. Those projects will add about 800 MW into Uganda’s national grid. This should stabilise the electricity access for Ugandans in urban areas. Those in rural areas who are off or away from the grid are finding alternative solutions.
There are local independent solar panel system resellers providing small off-grid solar solutions into this micro-electricity market. They are selling single solar power products ranging from simple lanterns to small solar panels and battery sets, right up to large solar home products. The off-grid solar industry in Uganda is growing, but off-grid solar products remain expensive relative to many rural family incomes.
The off-grid solar expansion is being pushed along using solar micro-financing schemes that operate on a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) set up. This consumer financing is bringing solar products within reach of more consumers in this emerging market and the same PAYGO approach is being applied across a wide band of related products.
The Government in Uganda seems supportive of the off-grid solar industry and they encourage these private sector players’ electrification plans in helping to meet that unmet demand from rural consumers. Improved technology in solar PV, battery storage, and low cost DC appliances will inevitably enhance the productivity of households, schools, and businesses. The expansion of solar products may hopefully see competitive improvement in the sector’s product pricing (relative to family income).
More Advantages Of Solar Power
The advantages of solar thermal type systems that heat water using radiant solar energy are reducing. Solar photovoltaic systems generate electricity that is used for heating while solar thermal systems directly heat the water.
Both solar thermal and PV systems require daylight to work. On those days when clouds cover the sun the local sunlight is not as intense. You need sunlight to create PV energy, albeit the efficiency of the solar PV array will be lower when it’s overcast or raining.
Solar energy arrives continuously from a limitless source from nature. The earth spins daily so sunlight is available across the whole planet for half of each day. Therefore it’s free, abundant and widely distributed across that half of the earth’s surface facing the sun.
Electricity sourced from renewable solar energy leaves no carbon footprint. Solar PV panels provide an environmentally clean way to generate electricity. No greenhouse emissions or pollutants are produced while making electricity from solar PV panels. Also solar makes no by-products or noise while generating electricity.
Using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels will help the environment and ensure the world’s fossil fuel reserves last longer.
Advantages Of Solar Electricity Price Falling
Annual increases are expected for electricity prices across most of the country report. Price rises may be due to the closures of the old ‘cheaper’ sources of electricity arriving from coal-fired power stations. Installing a roof solar PV system kit can seriously reduce the amount of energy you’ll have to buy from the grid.
There are alternative renewable energy sources available to utilities including wind and hydropower. However, for the average homeowner, solar is a more easily accessible and affordable self-generation electricity option. You can reduce your electric bills over the long term by investing in solar energy.
The prices for solar photovoltaic panels have been falling in the past years. In places oversupply of Chinese solar panels and anticipation of price drops means they are expected to drop even further.
Solar PV panels are the renewable energy system of choice. Some level of government subsidy plus retailers providing financial incentives for PV panels make solar energy an attractive investment.
Utilities provide a varied range feed-in tariffs that generate some level of income with the savings made from electricity. Retailers are providing solar finance incentive funding options that sell the benefits arising from installing solar renewable electricity.
Affordable And Accessible Solar
Governments encourage homeowners to install renewable energy sources like solar power. The sliding scale for feed-in tariff prices makes earlier installation of solar PV systems attractive to home and business owners.
Incentives increase the amount of solar power being made available in the grid to be utilized. However, that also means Utilities must balance the input to the grid with load adjustment of power from their generators.
Solar energy is one of the most widely accepted renewable power technologies available. Residential rooftop solar panels are easy to install without much interference to the domestic lifestyle.
The lower price of solar panels makes an entire renewable solar energy system affordable. Often the existence of elevated solar energy in hot summer months coincides with the higher energy demand needed for cooling. Solar PV panels can provide an effective energy solution for such high demand peaks.
This is particularly relevant for remote areas where electricity infrastructure limits access to electricity. Newly constructed solar stations with distributed power grids providing solar electricity to small remote communities within a relatively short time.
Operating and maintenance costs for fixed PV panels are low compared with costs of renewable energy systems like wind turbines. PV panels attached to sun-tracking bases require maintenance for the mechanical parts.
The Solar PV system has no moving parts so require very little maintenance. Most solar panels have a guaranteed production life of 25 years and last 40 years. Solar PV systems are solid-state silent operators so they are ideal for close built residential urban areas.
When investing in renewable energy ensure you are buying quality panels and have an annual competent aftercare service undertaken. Your most regular maintenance task will be cleaning the panels. The solar PV modules are extremely reliable and they have long warranties, most being around 20 years.
The often-cited reason for using renewables is they produce clean energy and according to IRENA report, renewables could compete on price. Renewable energy sources include hydro, wind, solar power, wave/tidal and geothermal. That article also includes renewables like biomass and ethanol, which produce CO2 to the atmosphere and are small scale in the overall picture and are not sufficiently dominant for cost efficient electricity production.
Could we come to be using 100% renewable energy sources for our homes? Yes, that is being done already with the help of solar PV for power, solar thermal for hot water, solar batteries for energy security, pushbike and electric car for transport, and home grown vegetables, fruit and animals for food. That might feasibly work. It's something for an alternative lifestyle with the goal of adopting 100% renewable energy and being self-sustaining.
We currently have conventional and renewable energy technologies in combination with a mix of battery storage to help provide reliable base-load power for electricity generation. Base load power from thermal coal and nuclear plants will continue until renewable power stations show it is possible to be 100% reliable and secure.
The price of batteries is falling and is getting to a level at which they are effective for grid use. In California and South Australia there have been significant increases in the state’s adoption of renewable energy sources for electricity, in particular solar PV with batteries. That outcome is being achieved in South Australia with Tesla battery banks and solar PV farms producing base load most days. However, the concept is being tested in January 2019 during heatwave conditions.
In South Australia, when the state experienced up to 47 degrees Celsius for a week there were bucket loads of sunshine, but there were more people with an appetite for electricity. Everyone who had an air-conditioner turned it on for some relief. Supply had increased but the demand grew faster than the grid could provide. People were urged to ration their use of household electricity to prevent the failures. The problem was that people don’t do as requested. In South Australia there were switchyard failures requiring return of some power from conventional diesel power generators.
Solar panels become less efficient as the temperatures move above 25 degrees and notably since the adoption of PV and batteries (with the mixes of high temperatures) there have been system wide failures. Australia is a large dry country with the most sun of any continent country. With a low population and in the higher band of energy prices in the world, more households are moving towards installing more solar for power generation.
Disadvantages of Solar
There will be some disadvantages to solar powered installations. You will need some space for your solar PV panels. If you live in a group housing townhouse you will need agreement from the other owners to install the panels. The panel will need to be oriented and elevated for the sun. Not all roof areas will be suited for PV solar applications. It is not a case of the more roof areas covered with panels the greater the electricity generated. Panel orientation for solar access, shading and efficiency of the system all matter.
Solar PV panels may not be viable if your home or business roof isn’t predominantly facing the sunlight. When the location of nearby taller buildings and trees provide shade during the day the PV output efficiency falls.
No power is produced at night and during daytime there may be cloudy or rainy weather reducing production. A continuous off-grid electric power supply from photovoltaic panels requires solar storage batteries, which increases the investment cost beyond PV panels.
Solar PV panels are relatively fragile and can be damaged relatively easily. Care is therefore important to safeguard a PV investment during installation, maintenance and roof inspections.
When you’re looking to purchase solar components you will undoubtedly consider and evaluate their negative and positive aspects. Solar power is viable as power prices increase, in areas where there is good solar access and there is a short payback period. Solar is one investment that can save money and give energy independence when added with batteries but remember the added investment in batteries needs to be separately evaluated.
After you’ve installed the solar system kit, charge controller, inverter, batteries and so on, remember to check and monitor performance warranties.
Feel free to leave comments below. We love to hear about your experience.
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This Checklist covers the things to consider when investing in a Solar PV system.
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