Solar energy is renowned as a particularly green form of energy. But, is it desirable as an energy source? Here, we help you to understand the meaning, advantages and disadvantages of solar energy so that you can make up your own mind.
What is Solar Energy?
‘Solar’ just means ‘from the sun’. And so, solar energy is energy that comes from the sun. Solar energy is a way of harnessing the energy in the sun’s rays and using it for all sorts of things, from generating electricity in our homes to powering the pumps in a swimming pool.
Solar derived energy is often also called photovoltaic energy, or ‘pv’ energy for short. This is because special cells or panels known as ‘photovoltaic cells’ are used to trap solar energy and turn it into electricity. You may know these cells by their more common name of ‘solar panels’.
Solar energy is a renewable type of energy. This means, in short, that human beings will be able to rely on solar energy for as long as the sun and human beings both exist.
What makes solar energy renewable? Renewable energy is energy that comes from a source that is not depleted no matter how much it is used. This is the case with solar energy. The act of humans harnessing solar energy does not deplete the sun’s energy.
Advantages of Solar energy.
1. Environmentally friendly. Renewable energy sources also tend to be more environmentally friendly than non renewable sources of energy. This is the case with solar energy. Solar panels do not release CO2 into the atmosphere like fossil fuels do, and they do not involve the huge risks of nuclear power. This makes them one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources around.
2. All natural. Harness the power of nature!
3. Cost effective. Once installed, solar panels cost very little to run.
4. Compact. You can add solar panels to your roof without having to install a whole load of bulky equipment.
5. No smells. No smoke or smells are generated from this energy source: just pure, clean energy.
6. Storage. Not everyone knows this, but solar energy can be stored in the solar panels so that you can use solar energy even when it is not sunny outside!
7. Perfect for sunny climates. If you live in a country with strong sun, solar energy is perfect for you!
8. Innovative. Be part of a great technological innovation.
9. Easy to use. Once installed, it is very easy to use solar energy – just turn your appliances, light switches and so on, on and off as you would do normally.
10. Reliable: Renewable energy sources are good long term options for the future. Human coal and oil reserves may run out in the next 50 years so we will no longer be able to rely on them. We will, however, be able to rely on solar energy for as long as we need it. The sun has another 4.6-5.5 billion years to live.
Disadvantages of Solar energy.
1. Not suitable for winter. On cloudy days or in the winter, you solar panels will not be able to harness so much energy.
2. Very visible. Some people feel that solar panels look unsightly on their roof.
3. Installation costs. Some people find the costs of installing solar panels somewhat prohibitive.
4. Maintenance. Solar panels need to be kept clean so that the sun’s rays can reach them. Some people would rather not have to go to the effort of checking and cleaning the panels every couple of weeks or so.
5. Not suitable for very heavy-duty energy. Most solar generators are perfect for homes, swimming pools and small businesses. They are not always enough to meet the energy needs of larger buildings like factories.
6. Just a fad? Some people see solar energy as just a passing fad. For this reason, they wonder whether they should buy in to this energy source as their main source of energy.
7. Inefficient. Solar panels can sometimes be quite inefficient at generating energy.
8. Positioning. Solar panels need to be positioned so that they have the best sun exposure – working out the best position for them can take some effort.
9. Other forms of green energy are available. Hydroelectric power or biomass could be better at meeting our energy needs in an environmentally friendly way. For example, if you live on a windy coastal area hydroelectric or wind power may well be a much smart choice than solar power!
Solar energy is a green and surprisingly powerful source of energy that is particularly good for people and businesses who live in regions of the world with strong, regular sunshine. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, pollute our planet and they will not last for ever. Thus, finding eco-friendly energy sources is imperative if we want to be able to meet our energy needs and care for our planet at the same time.
Though there are costs involved in installing photo-voltaic cells, once it is up and running a solar energy generator is a very cost efficient way to power your home, pool or small business. A little maintenance is required to keep the panels working properly. So why not look in to getting solar power for your building today?