Solar energy is the energy that is obtained from radiant heat and light from the sun. It has been harnessed by man in different ways, even in ancient times. It is renewable energy, and, unfortunately, a very minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is tapped into by man. Solar energy can be used to produce electricity through photovoltaic cells. It can also be used to directly heat up water and other liquids and use this stored heat for other purposes. Solar energy can also be directly used to cook food as well as produce heat for industrial purposes. Architects have also used solar energy to naturally heat up buildings by correctly orienting the exposed parts of a building’s wall surfaces so that the material used stores heat and redistributes it within the building.
Solar energy is completely renewable and absolutely clean. It never adds to the carbon footprint. Detractors point out that the vast energy required to produce solar cells may not be offset throughout the cell’s life. Solar energy does not produce acid rain or mercury condensates like electric power generation. Complete independence from oil is a great advantage for the fast-depleting natural resources like coal and oil.
Advantages of solar energy
Solar power and heating systems can give a lot of independence to the buildings using these systems. They are not then completely dependent on the utilities that supply power and are at the same time environmentally very friendly. Suppose the location of your building is in a remote area. In that case, the cost of bringing in utilities can be very high. It may even be as much as installing solar power panels. Installing solar power panels is said to cost a lot of money. This is mainly due to the very stringent conditions for producing silicon wafers that can turn the sun’s energy into power. The advantage of solar power installation is that it has practically no maintenance cost and can run indefinitely. Solar heating systems which heat the water or other liquids directly from the heat of the sun can cause a huge saving in fuel or electric bills. A well-planned heating system can heat up the rooms before finally being used as hot water.
Solar power cells are not machines and, therefore, will never add to the sound or noise pollution around your house. They will work quietly and efficiently if you take the basic steps to keep the panels free of dust or snow.
Disadvantages of solar energy
The efficiency of solar power cells is very low and is generally about 1 percent. Research has brought it up to about 15 percent. Still, the cost of production of such efficient power cells is astronomically high. Initial costs for installing solar energy systems are very high and have largely been responsible for their limited use. One main disadvantage that comes in the way of solar energy systems is that they cannot be used when the day is cloudy or during the night time. However, scientists are trying to overcome this by finding better ways to store the energy and use it for periods when sunlight is unavailable. It would help if you also saw that your panels are located so that shadows from adjoining buildings or structures do not affect the working. Even shadows from trees can affect efficiency. You must be sure of the trees in your vicinity that could grow up and cause your solar energy system to fail. Solar cells need to be constantly oriented towards the sun, and this itself can cause an increase in costs.