High Capital Cost
Is solar power really expensive? This is probably the most debatable aspect of the entire solar energy pros and cons list. The driving forces behind the development of solar energy are rooted in politics. Solar power received government subsidies but the oil and coal industries have also been subsidized. In 2010, coal received $1,189 billion in federal subsidies and support for electricity production while solar is not far behind at $968 billion.
Nowadays, the best solar panels can in many situations be cheaper than buying electricity from the utility.
There are three aspects of the intermittent nature of solar power;
- Firstly the sun doesn’t shine at night and so solar panels don’t generate power at night.
- Secondly, the sun shines with different intensity and different times or year and different times of each day; and
- Cloud cover can have a significant effect on the amount of energy produced by solar panels
All of these factors have meant that to date the prevailing wisdom is that solar power can not be relied on for baseload or for mission critical applications.
However, this is changing and the announcement last year by Tesla Motors that it intends to sell a Lithium-Ion battery solution suitable to allow consumers to cost-effectively store solar power is a sign that this may not be a limitation on solar power for long.
Energy Storage is Expensive
Energy storage systems such as batteries will help smoothen out demand and load, making solar power more stable, but these technologies are also expensive.
Luckily, there’s a good correspondence between our access to solar energy and human energy demand. Our electricity demand peaks in the middle of the day, which also happens to be the same time there’s a lot of sunlight!
Associated with Pollution
While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some problems do exist. Some manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride have been traced back to the production of solar panels. These are some of the most potent greenhouse gasses and have many thousand times the impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. Transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution.
Certain solar cells require materials that are expensive and rare in nature. This is especially true for thin-film solar cells that are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).
Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m2), is essential when looking at how much power can be derived from a certain area of real estate of an energy source. Low power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonable prices. The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m². This is more than any other renewable energy source, but not comparable to oil, gas and nuclear power.
Solar doesn’t move house
One of the disadvantages with installing solar panels on your home is that it is expensive to move them should you decide to move. The net metering agreement with your utility is fixed to the property. However, in practice, solar panels add value to a home and so even if you do move you are likely to see the value of your investment in solar panels reflected in higher sale price. It is much easier if your purchase the solar panels outright if you do move because with a lease or PPA you need to the new owner to agree to take over the agreement.
Contact us at Eco Solar Home Improvement to learn more about these terms, or to schedule your free energy assessment. We’re here to help you through education and an honest approach to customer service.