The pros and cons of PV solar energy. That’s what we’re picking apart today. What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? We’ve been told that if we could harness the full power of the sun for just one hour we could meet global energy needs for one full year. But, there are two sides to every impressive statement. We’re currently able to capture but a fraction of the sun’s power. So, let’s look at the realities of where we find ourselves now. We know that installing solar panels is expensive. We know that they take up room and we know that they are reliant on light (a seemingly daunting note in Ireland). Can we balance these arguments at all?
Let’s get down and start with the disadvantages.
The Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Getting the ball rolling and installing a solar system requires a significant outlay almost immediately. These costs will cover the technology itself – solar panels, inverter, batteries (if required) and the manpower to put it together, professionally, with consideration given to what will work for your set of circumstances. While there are grants available and schemes coming down the line there’s no getting away from the fact that pockets will be lighter.
SOLAR ENERGY IS DAYTIME AND WEATHER DEPENDENT
You cannot capture solar energy at night and a few days of cloudy, rainy weather can have an impact on the energy produced. Admittedly, that reads quite negatively when you’re used to contrary Summers but rest assured energy can still be captured. Here’s a blog we put together on how panels perform in Ireland to counter that concern.
SOLAR ENERGY STORAGE IS EXPENSIVE
This bounces off the back of our last point. Batteries can be used to store energy produced on the good days to counter the bad. This allows you to use your energy at night and on grey days but the batteries will cost you.
An experienced and vetted provider is your best port of call in ensuring that you’re getting a system that makes sense for you and your budget. In some instances they’ll decide it’s a smarter solution to use energy from the grid at night and your panels during the day. In others, they’ll clearly see the value you’ll get investing in batteries. Be smart, don’t wish away solar energy just because you can’t go completely off grid – doing a little can give you a lot.
SOLAR PANELS USE A LOT OF SPACE
The more panels you have, the more energy you produce, the more room you need. It all adds up. As with the storage battery decision a good provider will look at your space and design a system that will work for you. But, no matter what way you come at it, solar panels require space and in some instances your roof may not be big enough for what you want to achieve. If that’s the case, ground mounted panels might be the way forward but this is dependent on a number of factors such as position, access and light availability. Once again, we caution you not to throw the idea of solar energy out but to look at it from a 360 degree, long term perspective.
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH POLLUTION
While over their 25-30 year lifespan your solar panels will produce enough clean energy to offset the energy that was used to make them in the first place, the transportation and installation of solar systems are associated with the emission of greenhouse gases.
There are also materials used in the manufacturing of PV systems which can indirectly impact the environment which is far from ideal but it still weighs far less heavily than alternative energy sources.
The Advantages of Solar Energy
IT’S A RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE
This is one of the most important points. Particularly in light of recent news headlines and the staggeringly alarming reports of where the world sits in relation to pollution and global warming. Solar energy can be captured in all parts of the world and is available everyday. That cannot be said of all energy sources.
Solar energy will be available until the sun dies (a sad thought) but thankfully scientists say we still have at least 5 billion years on our side.
IT REDUCES ELECTRICITY BILLS
We talk about this a lot but if you’re getting some of your energy needs met with solar power your energy bills will drop. It’s a simple fact that is reliant on the size of the solar system in place and the amount of electricity used.
With the new MSS scheme due to roll out in Ireland in the not so distant future this point further benefits. This essentially allows you to sell your energy back to the main grid. If you produce excess energy you have a place to send it to and you get money for sending it.
SOLAR ENERGY HAS DIVERSE APPLICATIONS
Solar energy is not a one trick pony. It can be used to generate electricity (photovoltaics) or heat (solar thermal). It can be used in places without access to the energy grid – like space to power satellites! Or, closer to home, earth; to regions with limited access to clean water supplies where it can be used to distil water.
Advancements in the technology have also seen solar energy being integrated into projects via the materials used – such as transparent solar energy windows.
LOW MAINTENANCE COSTS
While the initial investment can pinch, the day to day maintenance of a solar energy system requires very little care. It’s similar to keeping windows in good health. Keep them unobstructed, free of debris and occasionally clean them or have them cleaned by a professional.
Due to the fact they’re a stationary installation with no moving parts there isn’t the usual wear and tear to worry about.
CONSISTENT TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
There are ongoing advancements within the solar power industry with investments being made on local, national and international levels. Innovations in the areas of quantum physics and nanotechnology are looking to increase the effectiveness of solar panels and at least double the electrical input of the solar power systems.
Now, to sum it up; let’s put these pros and cons side by side. Yes, there are disadvantages, there’s no one size fits all and you may not be able to live completely off grid but the advantages are plain to see. There are improvements to be made but it seems as though the industry is making moves in the right direction.
|It’s A Renewable Energy Source||Cost|
|It Reduces Electricity Bills||It’s Daytime and Weather Dependent|
|Solar Energy Has Diverse Applications||Solar Energy Storage is Expensive|
|Low Maintenance Costs||Solar Panels Use a Lot of Space|
|Consistent Technology Development||Solar Energy Systems are Associated with Pollution|
If you want Caldor to assess your particulars and go through options in-depth, you can arrange a call for free which can be followed by a site visit if you require.