Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

By Jacqueline J.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy uses the sun to make electricity. Solar panels are made of semiconductor materials, like silicon. When sunlight is absorbed by the silicon, the photons energize the electrons of the silicon. This causes the electrons to move to a higher energy level, creating an electrical current.
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Advantages of Using Solar Energy

  • Solar power is renewable, abundant, and sustainable. It will not run out and will not compromise the future generation.
  • Solar energy is also good for the environment. It does not create any pollution when creating electricity.
  • You get free electricity. Since it uses the sun to generate electricity, you don't have to pay for the power.
  • It also reduces energy costs. Since you don't have to pay for electricity, you save money. You can also gain money by selling the energy that you do not use.
  • The government will also offer financial support. You get a 30% tax credit for installing a solar system.
  • It's silent. Unlike wind turbines, solar panels do not create any noise since they do not have any moving parts.
  • Solar panels have a long lifetime. Although companies usually offer a 20-25 year warranty, solar panels can last 30-40 years.
  • Solar panels are low maintenance since they only need to be cleaned a few times a year.

Disadvantages of Using Solar Energy

    • Solar energy is not available all of the time. If there is no sun, the solar panel are not able to generate power. This makes it inconvenient if you want to use electricity at night.
    • Although solar power can be used anywhere, it is less effective in places that receive more indirect sunlight. In those places, you would need to install more solar panels to generate the electricity.
    • It is expensive. It cost between $15,000-$40,000 to install solar panels and a solar system.
    • Solar energy is more expensive to use than coal and gas. The cost per watt of solar energy is between $4-$5 once both the solar panels and the system is included. Coal, on the other hand, only cost $3 a watt, and natural gas cost around $1.
    • Solar energy is not as efficient in terms of power. The average solar panel is only able to convert 10-20% of the sunlight into electricity.
    • Even though solar energy does not cause any pollution by itself, it can cause pollution indirectly. The production of solar panels creates nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride, which are greenhouse gases.

    Sources


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