Solar Energy Advantages And Disadvantages

ABEST1 Solar Energy Advantages And Disadvantages

Article by Neil MacLeod

Solar energy can be collected in two main ways – either by heating water (Solar Thermal) or by converting light into electricity (Solar Photovoltaics).

Here follows a brief run down of the main advantages and disadvantages of solar energy as a green energy source encompassing both solar thermal and solar photovoltaics.


Solar energy is free. There is an initial capital cost but once you have made the investment the energy harvested from the sun costs you nothing. No one will be sending you a bill for sunshine.

Solar energy is abundant. Even in mid winter we are blessed with a moderate amount of natural daylight provided courtesy of the sun. Okay, it might not be sunny everyday but we are still experiencing radiation from the sun and it is this which can be gleaned for our own renewable energy purposes.

It’s clean. It is a clean alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power and it will never run out.It’s silent. Solar power can be captured anywhere without creating noise pollution that might otherwise up set neighbours and wildlife.

It works wherever the sun shines. It doesn’t matter how remote, solar can generate energy where no other form of power can be obtained.

It’s cost effective. Solar photovoltaics are still relatively expensive, however, the technology is growing rapidly, as is production and as a result the costs involved are coming down. Solar hot water panels have been greatly improved in recent years and, with lower cost, payback times for domestic systems can no be as short as five years. As coal, gas and oil prices continue to rise solar energy will become a viable alternative.It’s secure. We live in uncertain times and we are increasingly relying on our fossil fuel supplies coming from areas abroad over which we have little or no control.


Continuity of supply. Those of you who live and work here in the UK may have noticed that the sun doesn’t shine for 8 hours a day every day. Fortunately the latest technology allows more of the sun’s energy to be captured even at relatively low levels. There is also the opportunity to create hybrid renewable energy systems that take advantage of the synergy between solar and wind energy.

Cost. Even if solar power is a viable alternative to mains power, the initial capital cost may be prohibitive for many. There are some grants available, however, as yet these are not sufficient to encourage widespread investment in the technology.

Visual impact. In some instances panels will be intrusive and may detract from the attractiveness of buildings and landscapes. Most of us can appreciate that it would not be suitable to cover a building of particular historical, conservational or aesthetic value with a huge array of solar panels. Visual impact becomes less of an issue as the technology improves and the size and look of the panels improves.

Location is important. Correct location of solar panels is of the utmost importance and not every building can benefit from a solar array. Ideally, panels need to be facing south and shouldn’t be subject to any shading.

About the Author

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