Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The energy from the sun never depletes and hence solar energy is considered one of the most reliable forms of renewable energy. With loads of advantages, solar energy has a host of disadvantages too.

Expensive equipment

Photovoltaic solar cells and panels are expensive. Even with government subsidizes and tax benefits, a solar plant is considered to be an expensive alternative to fossil fuel. Despite sincere efforts from the government to promote solar energy, many are not able to afford the huge cost of the equipment. Research is on to churn out new technologies that can reduce the cost of the equipment, but it may not happen in the near future. Breakeven on the investment may take decades. Hence, most people do not yet consider this an alternative to fossil fuel. Cost may be a deterring factor as the user has to pay up the full cost in advance for which they can enjoy electricity for the next 30 years. This is a big asking rate.

Needs lot of space

Solar panels are huge and installation requires a lot of space. For home users, large open space is required to capture the sunlight but with people living in skyscrapers this may not be possible. For commercial purposes, large area is required to provide electricity for the setup.

Needs sunshine for electricity production

solar energy sunshine exposure

Hours of sunshine per annum

Solar panels can be effective only in places that have bright sunshine. Solar energy does not work in geographical locations that do not have sufficient exposure to sunlight. Places that are cloudy and foggy cannot produce enough energy required for home electricity needs. Even houses that have trees and buildings blocking the sun rays are not suitable for solar power generation. Regions between 50 degrees north and south of equator are most suitable. That is why solar energy is apt for tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Unreliable source of energy

Solar energy generation cannot go on round the year. There may be times when the weather is cloudy or foggy, and during these times, solar panels do not generate enough electricity. Solar energy produced has to be saved, otherwise it cannot be used during the night or cloudy weather conditions. Hence, batteries are needed to save on the energy.

Not so clean

Solar energy may not be the cleanest form of energy, as claimed by experts. Facts reveal that photovoltaic panels consist of silicon, mercury, lead and cadmium that are toxic in nature and could result in causing more harm than good to the environment.

Not energy efficient

solar energy efficiency

A chart showing the efficiency of solar panels

Solar panels are not highly efficient in producing energy as energy loss happens during the process. Analysts claim that only 20-40% of the energy is used and the remainder is wasted. However new technologies are being researched to cut on the energy wasted in the process.

Storing is an issue

Harnessing solar energy is one thing but storing it for future use is entirely another. There are batteries available with solar drip feed, but they are expensive and cannot be used for large scale purposes.

Traditional panels are rather bulky

Solar panels made of crystalline wafer modules of silicon are bulky, although the output is good. The latest light weight thin-film solar panels are flexible yet the energy production is not good as in the case of silicon crystalline wafer modules.

Complicated process

The whole process of solar energy is complicated. With limited knowledge about the solar panel installation process, you cannot be motivated. A user needs to be educated about solar energy and its benefits before starting the process. Many people join the bandwagon for green energy just because others are doing it. Motivation is one and practicality is another issue. Get to know the basic before starting solar installation.

Using age old technology

Many are not aware that solar panel designs are more than a decade old, meaning that the technology has not advanced for a long time. Although research is on, it is in nascent stage and the real revolution has not happened. Most of the results are lab oriented and do not work in the real world. Unless some real big invention happens, it is only a wait and watch game for solar energy.

No transparent pricing

What is the actual price of solar panels and photovoltaic cells? The answer may vary, because there is no standard pricing for solar equipment. Try different manufacturers and each one will give you a different price. So there is no idea as to how much needs to be paid for a solar installation. This hurdle can be crossed only with the help of vigorous shopping and bargaining.

Maintenance issues

Solar panels may be protected from dirt, moisture and other elements but yet there is nothing stopping it from corrosion. Once this happens, the uptake of photons decreases, resulting in less production of energy. Not just solar panels, even batteries have to be maintained properly.

Performance deteriorates

Anything exposed to sunlight tends to age. Similarly, solar equipment exposed to sunlight also tend to under-perform. Remember that the solar equipment is exposed to photons and ultraviolet rays. Even rain and wind can cause damage to the solar equipment thereby reducing its life expectancy. With constant wear and tear, maintenance cost increases.

Environmental hazards

Although solar energy is green energy, the components of solar technology are sure to cause environmental hazards if not managed properly. Since the batteries are recyclable it is the responsibility of the user to hand over the batteries to recycling facilities to avoid damage to the environment. Cadmium is a harmful substance that is also called a carcinogenic agent that can pose health risks when it is released into the environment. Cadmium is present in the cell and needs to be disposed with care so that it does not penetrate into the ground, water or soil.

Dampens the architectural beauty of the building

bulky solar panels

Solar panels can sometimes ruin the overall symmetry of the house/roof

After designing your home or office with an architectural bend of mind, it is important that the elevation of the building is maintained. Installation of solar panels compromises the looks of the building. Bulky solar panels installed on the roof can decrease the appeal of the building. Once the solar panel is installed on the roof, repairing the roof becomes difficult. The whole system has to be removed and re-fixed after the roof repair work is done, which can be expensive and time consuming.