“What are the pros and cons of solar energy?”

In October 1973, the United States decided to resupply the Israeli military during what is now called the Yom Kippur War, another chapter of the century-old conflict between Israel and several Arab countries.

In a retaliatory effort, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) instituted an embargo on the United States and other Western countries. The OAPEC is comprised of the Arab countries of Opec, and at the time, the six Arab countries in OPEC possessed roughly 66 percent of OPEC’s production and reserves.

Needless to say, the embargo hurt; the sanction resonated throughout most of the Western world, prompting widespread shortages and higher prices. It was largely due to the oil crisis of the 1970s that many national governments and private companies increased their efforts to make energy sources renewable and reduce dependence on foreign oil.


Solar energy definition

Of the numerous options explored, solar energy is definitely one of the most promising. The solar energy definition, simply put, is just natural energy that is emitted by the sun. In a solar power system, a collection made up of one of several different types of solar panels uses energy from the sun and converts it into usable energy, which makes solar energy renewable source of power. The solar pros and cons are numerous.


Benefits of renewable energy

The benefits of renewable energy are both practical and political. Solar power is much cleaner than fossil fuels, global warming reducing and, because an array of solar panels uses no moving parts, the systems are virtually silent. Politically speaking, the use of solar panels large scale would have beneficial economic effects, which would make conventional energy sources cheaper and more available.


Homeowners concept of solar energy

While helping the planet by installing a global warming reducing energy system is a nice bonus, the homeowners concept behind solar power is mostly about saving money. For homeowners thinking long term, solar energy systems do just that.

benefits of solar energy

Solar systems also boast impressive lifespans. In 2009, a small solar system produced the amount of power required to build it in less than two years, and its estimated lifespan was 25 years. Given that technology has improved in the last decade, both of these estimates have likely improved.

Although solar power will not entirely replace electricity in most applications, people with a small solar system will see a significant reduction in their energy bills. Although savings will vary depending on energy prices and geographical location, homeowners in 2017 saved between $500 and $850 annually. This amounts to a savings of between $12,500 and $21,250 throughout the life of the system.


Renewable advantages and disadvantages

Although solar energy is cleaner and quieter than conventional electricity, it still has some considerable disadvantages:

  • Geographic location: Geographic location is a key factor when determining how much energy can be effectively generated from the sun. Typically, the amount of energy that can be harnessed from the sun increases with proximity to the equator. Even so, solar energy can be generated, to varying degrees, in just about any location.
  • Time of day: The time of day may be the biggest hurdle faced by solar power today. Because the intensity of the sun is integral in generating usable energy, energy yield is often minimal in the early morning and late evening, and solar systems cannot generate any power at night. Fortunately, most households’ peak power consumption coincides with the peak energy output of solar energy systems.
  • Time of year: Similar to the time of day, the time of year plays a role in the sun’s intensity and duration. Thusly, energy generation in the winter and fall will be lower than in the spring and summer, which means that solar energy might not be particularly useful for heating a home. On the other hand, it is often more expensive to run air conditioning than heat, and solar energy is at its peak when people want to cool their houses.
  • Location and types of solar panels: The space required for the installation of solar energy systems can be cumbersome. Shady areas, obstructions and certain homeowner regulations can sometimes make installation difficult or impractical. In these scenarios, rooftop solar energy may be the answer. With rooftop solar energy, panels are out of the way and unlikely to be overshadowed by shrubs or other buildings.
  • Initial cost: The initial cost of purchasing and installing a solar energy system can be quite high. Although there is a bit of variance, a 3KW (kilowatt) system will cost between $8,000 and $10,500. There is, however, a 30 percent solar tax credit, which brings the cost of the system down by several thousand dollars.

It is important to consider renewable advantages and disadvantages before deciding whether to install a solar energy system.


Recent innovations in solar technology

While solar technology has been improving gradually over the years as opposed to making giant leaps, there have been some recent changes in aesthetics and solar panels uses. In response to many people’s concerns that solar panels are an eyesore, an MIT startup company is developing “solar skin designs,” which promises to make solar panels more customizable and attractive.

In addition to aesthetics, some companies are working to use solar technology to make roads safer. While still in testing, this solar-powered pavement technology is designed to light roadways at night and, hopefully, even melt dangerous snow and ice.

As solar energy renewable source of power and one of the most promising, the technology will inevitably improve, and making energy sources renewable is one of the world’s top priorities, so solar panels large scale will likely trend upward in the coming years.

There are, of course, solar pros and cons, but solar pros are growing while its cons diminish, and this trend is also likely to continue. As designers find new ways to enhance energy storage and increase the amount of energy solar panels can absorb, solar energy systems have the potential to eventually free Americans from the grid altogether. Solar energy has not reached its peak, but it already can and does save people money.