Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are undoubtedly what comes to peoples’ minds when they talk about solar energy. Considering that in an hour, the sun radiates solar energy enough to cover for human energy consumption for a year, then going green with solar PV panels is perhaps in the right direction! However, with solar energy systems’ technology, we are still behind in capturing this naturally free vast amount of energy provided by nature.
Herein you can review some basic advantages and disadvantages of solar energy panels (PV panels) – for an extended analysis on this you may refer to pros and cons of Photovoltaic systems and pros and cons of Home solar panels
Advantages of solar PV – in a nutshell
- PV panels provide clean – green energy. During electricity generation with PV panels there is no harmful greenhouse gas emissions thus solar PV is environmentally friendly.
- Solar energy is energy supplied by nature – it is thus free and abundant!
- Solar energy can be made available almost anywhere there is sunlight
- Solar energy is especially appropriate for smart energy networks with distributed power generation – DPG is indeed the next generation power network structure!
- Solar panels cost is currently on a fast reducing track and is expected to continue reducing for the next years – consequently solar PV panels has indeed a highly promising future both for economical viability and environmental sustainability.
- Photovoltaic panels, through photoelectric phenomenon, produce electricity in a direct electricity generation way
- Operating and maintenance costs for PV panels are considered to be low, almost negligible, compared to costs of other renewable energy systems
- PV panels have no mechanically moving parts, except in cases of sun-tracking mechanical bases; consequently they have far less breakages or require less maintenance than other renewable energy systems (e.g. wind turbines)
- PV panels are totally silent, producing no noise at all; consequently, they are a perfect solution for urban areas and for residential applications (see solar panels for home)
- Because solar energy coincides with energy needs for cooling, PV panels can provide an effective solution to energy demand peaks – especially in hot summer months where energy demand is high.
- Though solar energy panels’ prices have seen a drastic reduction in the past years, and are still falling, nonetheless, solar photovoltaic panels are one of major renewable energy systems that are promoted through government subsidy funding (FITs, tax credits etc.); thus financial incentive for PV panels make solar energy panels an attractive investment alternative.
- Residential solar panels are easy to install on rooftops or on the ground without any interference to residential lifestyle.
Disadvantages of Solar PV – in a nutshell
- As in all renewable energy sources, solar energy has intermittency issues; not shining at night but also during daytime there may be cloudy or rainy weather.
- Consequently, intermittency and unpredictability of solar energy makes solar energy panels less reliable a solution.
- Solar energy panels require additional equipment (inverters) to convert direct electricity (DC) to alternating electricity (AC) in order to be used on the power network.
- For a continuous supply of electric power, especially for on-grid connections, Photovoltaic panels require not only Inverters but also storage batteries; thus increasing the investment cost for PV panels considerably
- In case of land-mounted PV panel installations, they require relatively large areas for deployment; usually the land space is committed for this purpose for a period of 15-20 years – or even longer.
- Solar panels efficiency levels are relatively low (between 14%-25%) compared to the efficiency levels of other renewable energy systems.
- Though PV panels have no considerable maintenance or operating costs, they are fragile and can be damaged relatively easily; additional insurance costs are therefore of ultimate importance to safeguard a PV investment.
You may also want to read:
Subscribe to the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast on iTunes here
Get more solar videos here