The Truth About The Disadvantages Of Solar Energy Is About To Be Revealed

Categories: News Update.

Radiation - A Disadvantage Of Solar Energy

Thinking about the solar negatives after you’ve installed the solar panel array, inverter, batteries, etc. is what many call post-purchase regret. That is also what some people might call 'buyer’s remorse'. You think; “Why didn’t that photovoltaic disadvantage occur to me while I was doing the feasibility analysis?”

How To Get Free Solar Power

You’re looking at red sunburnt skin after a day in the sun and asking yourself; "why didn't I use sunscreen?" Maybe you had it with you but it wasn’t applied. That solar radiation burning question obviously wasn’t there in the euphoria of having fun and getting a suntan.


Buying solar power is a bit like sunburn if you don't think through the consequences of installation; it's a major investment decision. You need to be convinced that the investment will pay dividends at a sufficient rate to repay the investment. Are there disadvantages of solar energy? Sure there are the down side issues but lets be rational.


You need to look on the bright side of life to collect the positive aspects of solar energy. That big solar rooftop installation looks great even before it got connected.


There Are Solar Positives!

advantages Of Solar Energy

I’ll get to the disadvantages of solar energy shortly, but first let me acknowledge that solar power does have positives. These include:

  • Reduces our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production
  • Solar power is one of the most widely accepted power technologies available
  • Solar energy arriving from a limitless source to produce electricity while sunlight is available
  • Energy from the sun is totally free, and widely available
  • Generating electricity from renewable solar energy sources leaves no carbon footprint
  • During power generation PV panels produce no by-product or emissions, create no pollution, and make no noise
  • It’s a good economic response for a mini-power grid at remote locations
  • Construction and maintaining solar in remote areas provide a distribution of green jobs, and
  • It’s possible to make solar reliable for off grid locations

Disadvantages Of Solar Energy

Before you commit a chunk of your financial resources to a solar energy solution recognise there are some disadvantages.


To gather the disadvantages of solar energy you need some ‘black hat thinking’ for many of them to arise. Maybe you ask yourself; “What are the many ways that this brilliant idea won’t work?” You need that Thomas Edison response to his experimental results when trying to get an incandescent light globe to illuminate. Each of the ten thousand failed attempts revealed to him another way this technology didn’t work.


Since the 1990s the fossil fuel antagonists and sceptics have predicting a peak oil end to the energy sector. It’s not unexpected that oil companies like Shell might be exploring alternative sources of cheap renewable energy. The utility companies are making big investments in solar, wind and hydropower. They are becoming the advocates for renewables.


Governments are encouraging investments into alternative power choices. There’s demand for utility companies to generate cheaper electricity from large-scale renewable sources. Particularly, large-scale solar technology using wasteland areas is encouraged. Further competition from manufacturers who want to provide the technology components represents a good time to be moving into renewables.


However solar energy has shortcomings of inconsistency and inefficiency. The weather is partly predictable in that it has seasonal climatic cycles. The sun shines constantly but its strength or intensity on arrival at a point on the earth constantly varies. There is a high initial capital outlay for solar energy.

Free Energy But At What Cost

disadvantages Of Solar Energy

Expensive

The upfront cost of purchasing a solar system is high enough that sellers refer to it as ‘a clean energy investment’. With an investment you pay an upfront amount and get long-term capital gains and periodic dividend returns. National governments introduce incentive schemes to encourage people to adopt solar renewable energy sources. However you will still have to cover the upfront capital and installation costs. Those factors clearly lead me to thinking there must be more disadvantages of solar energy.


Your solar investment requires you to pay for solar panels, bank of batteries, inverter, wiring and then get through the approvals and installation red tape. You need to find and pay for a reliable competent electrical contractor to do the complete installation. Buyer’s remorse sets in again when you discover today’s solar technology release is more efficient and cheaper than the one you invested in recently.


Subsidies

Solar panels can produce cheaper power for you than buying electricity from the utility. However, this might not have been possible without incentives to reduce the initial capital cost that you electricity bill savings are paying back.


The push behind the development of solar energy is rooted in politics. Solar power needs to be incentivised to compete against other mainstream energy sources. On the other hand, in the U.S. and similarly in the rest of the world, the government provides incentives to major energy production providers – everyone, including solar.


Coal receives $billions in federal subsidies to support electricity production and so does solar power. Solar power subsidies are not far behind but solar subsidies are disbursed to many distributed domestic energy producers and everyone knows about those subsidies.

Is It Totally Reliable? - What About That Weather?

Intermittent

Solar energy is an intermittent energy source. Access to sunlight is limited at certain times or not there at all (e.g. early morning, late afternoon and night). Predicting overcast days can be difficult. Solar power is not the first choice of utilities when it comes to meeting the base load energy demand. However, when it comes to being an intermittent power source, solar power has fewer prediction problems than wind power.


Solar panels only operate during daylight. Some renewable energy sources, like wind, can operate during the night when the wind blows. 


This means you will depend on the local utility grid for power on still dark days or at night if you have a wind turbine. An alternative for saving some of the excess solar power is to buy batteries. If you buy solar batteries to store excess power, which you can draw on later when needed, you must do another cost benefit analysis. The added cost of batteries might not be worth the extra investment dollars.

disadvantages of solar energy - overcast sky

Your renewable energy with battery back up power source must be capable of being isolated from the grid. This electrical safety cut-off and isolation requirement protects the utility electrical workers when repairing and restoring power to lines. During blackouts and storms you risk losing your ability to draw power from your batteries without grid power isolation.


Your feasibility accounted for collecting solar energy during endless cloudy and rainy days. Accounting for the efficiency drop-off of the solar photovoltaic (PV) system is part of risk analysis within the feasibility. Solar panels absorb sunlight and convert solar energy to electricity. The bleak overcast, raining days noticeably impact the energy available to the PV system.


People who invest in battery backup systems do so to add value to their solar energy technology. There’s a risk that the overall cost of installing solar panels and back up may end up being uneconomic.

Adding The Solar Battery Storage Option

The sun’s light energy is available during the daytime. You can collect and use solar electricity as it generates, sell to the utility or store it in batteries. There are advantages for batteries, like having off-the-grid electrical independence. The batteries can be charged during the day and that the energy used later. The fact of needing batteries to function might be one of the disadvantages of solar energy.


Energy Storage is Expensive

This energy storage solution comes with a cost and the solar battery option can be quite expensive. You need to check the cost of the system on a case-by-case basis to confirm returns or what savings accrue. It might be financially smarter to install a solar system and just use energy during the day.


When you take energy from the grid during the night you will obviously pay for that electricity. A grid tied strategy means you remain connected to the grid to sell excess daytime power and buy when it won’t produce. Most of our household energy demand usually happens during the day when it can be fed with solar electricity.


We know utility companies are in the business of selling energy at a profit. Utilities are adjusting their peak period times and rates to extract higher returns from more of the time after sunset. This extended high tariff period makes solar batteries attractive.


Energy storage systems such as batteries will help smoothen out demand and load, making solar power more stable, but these technologies are also expensive. Luckily, there`s a good correspondence between our access to solar energy and human energy demand. Our electricity demand peaks in the middle of the day, which also happens to be the same time there`s a lot of sunlight!

Solar Panels Use A Lot Of Roof Space

Require Panel Space

More solar panels to collect more sunlight will produce more electricity. You might be sure you will have enough solar capacity with a roof covered in panels but it all comes at a price.


Solar panels require a lot of roofs space. Some roof areas are the wrong shape or are not oriented for the best solar aspect.


Your roof could be big enough to fit the right number of solar panels that you need but then the neighbours object. The need for additional considerations like checking to see if the neighbours can stop you installing panels are probably disadvantages of solar energy.


Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m²), is essential to consider when looking at how much power can be derived from your real estate's roof area for a solar energy source. Lower power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonably prices.

Renewable Energy Sources

Neighbours in some states have a say about what can be installed in street view. You could erect some of the panels in your backyard as shade structures. Remember that solar panels need to have direct sunlight so a partially shaded rear yard won’t do.


You know that solar energy cannot be collected from shaded panels or during the night when there is no sunlight. However you need lights, cooling and electrical appliances to work at night during summer and your heating in wintertime.


Solar solutions are available for solar problems but many come with a price. Rather than finding sunny yard space for sufficient solar panels you can mount them on roof re-orientation brackets. You could use fewer panels attached to mechanical solar tracking, which may be efficient enough for satisfying your energy needs.

What’s This Argument About No Pollution

Solar Associated with Pollution

An argument directed in favour of solar energy systems suggests they cause far less pollution compared to other sources of energy. That argument works when the solar installation is completed. The production of solar energy needs to recognise any toxic materials and hazardous products used during the manufacturing process. Nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride have been associated with the production of solar panels.There is a global transportation logistic stream associated with installation of solar systems. Transport emissions of greenhouse gases happen during delivery and installation solar panels.


The recycling or disposal of decommissioned solar photovoltaic panels must come eventually. This must be undertaken so as to not affect the environment.


Similarly, your solar batteries need to be decommissioned, disposed of or recycled at some point. Solar PV panels don’t pollute the air while they’re generating energy. However, solar panels are still existent visually. They are possibly prettier than poles and wires of contemporary energy sources.

Exotic Materials Used in Solar Panels

Certain solar cells require materials that are expensive, or toxic but rare in nature. This will be true for thin-film solar cells that are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).


With every form of energy generation there is some risk. I am not suggesting that you stay out of the sun or even that you always need your liberal smear of sunscreen. The above blog outlines the disadvantages to consider when considering installing solar energy.



Last Words

I have avoided looking at a question like; "what are the pros and cons of solar energy?" I have chosen to write on the topic; "disadvantages of solar energy", which is not exactly the same as "disadvantages of solar cells", "disadvantages of solar power" or "disadvantages of solar panels".


There are clearly advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy, and in particular there are advantages and disadvantages of using solar energy.


I hope this article provides sufficient balance across from the upside argument to adopt renewables.


Take the disadvantages of solar into account when you look at the positives or pros of renewable energy.


Comments

  1. Hi, Thanks for your great article. I appreciate your research on solar energy. As a solar panels expert, I want to say that the potential environmental impacts associated with solar power — land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing — can vary greatly depending on the technology, which includes two broad categories: photovoltaic (PV) solar cells or concentrating solar thermal plants (CSP).

    • Barry Tonkin

      Thank you for your comment,
      Yes, for renewable energy projects such as solar farms that need broad acre allotments, and for almost any energy project, there will be varying land allocation issues that may affect the location’s habitat. Each project will affect or amend the way the nature on site is impacted by the project even being there, as it develops and is maintained. Thermal energy generators like CSP or wind farms or dams for hydro or tidal power all need consideration of their potential impacts within the environment of their location. Then, there are electricity access corridors to consider for siting the high voltage transmission lines that provide the consumers with electricity. Some deleterious impacts occur with any location-based industrial or commercial venture, including power generation projects, for whatever mode (renewable or not) being chosen. Using renewable energy sources to provide electrical power has the potential to cause an ongoing reduction in the emission of greenhouse gas and that arguably affects climate.
      Regards, Sunpowersource.com

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