Solar Energy Pros and Cons
With all the buzz in the media these days about “going green” and with the awareness of global warming constantly rising, many homeowners are considering using solar energy to provide the electrical needs for their homes. With the cost of energy consistently rising over the years, the option of using a few photovoltaic panels to offset power consumption from the grid is becoming more and more viable every year. In order to make an informed decision, it is important to consider some of the solar energy pros and cons.
For solar energy pros and cons, the pros are numerous. Photovoltaic (also known as PV) panels were designed in the 1960s by Bell laboratories, so don’t let anyone tell you that solar is a new technology that needs further testing. The solar PV industry is rapidly expanding and the technology is always becoming more efficient. The electricity produced by a PV module is 100% clean, there is no bi-product, waste, or exhaust. The panels simply collect photon energy from the suns rays and convert them into electricity. It also goes without saying that solar energy is the only inexhaustible form on energy on our planet. This makes for a compelling benefit. Not only is this source of energy totally clean and reliable, it will never be exhausted in our life time or even in the life time of many generations to come. With all those great benefits, why would we use anything but solar? Of course the answer to that question comes conveniently packaged with the following cons of solar energy.
The major drawback to solar energy is the cost. While it costs nothing to operate a solar electric system because the main input (sunlight) is free, the upfront cost of the panels themselves is prohibitive. A residential solar electric system big enough to supply all the power for a family of four is about $20,000 to $30,000 before state and federal tax credits and utility company rebates. This is not pocket change for the average Joe. As stated, the government provides great incentives for solar and utility companies will provide a cash rebate for and solar system tied to the electrical grid. If the system is built into the house when constructed, the system can be factored into the mortgage, which will be easier to pay off over time. Another disadvantage for those interested in solar energy who live in ultra rural areas is the fact that only grid tied systems can receive rebate money from utilities. This rebate money usually covers up to 50% of the entire system which makes solar possible for most people. Unfortunately, off grid systems require a battery backup unit which is quite expensive.
The solar energy pros and cons outlined above are by no means an exhaustive list. After the homeowner has considered these solar energy pros and cons, they should dig a bit deeper and do more research on solar energy. As stated, the benefits of solar energy are numerous and the cons will continue to diminish as technology improves, as more governments become pro solar, and as soon as the market expands causing the prices of PV modules to gradually drop.