Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
With all the uproar about energy resources and energy costs, people may be looking into every available alternative to lowering energy bills. One alternative worth researching is solar power. It’s the one power source to which everyone has access (not including those people who reside near the north and south poles or Seattle).
Solar cells can be seen on rooftops, office buildings and even on calculators and watches. These cells, also called photovoltaics (PV), convert sunlight into electricity. PVs consist of semiconducting materials similar to those used in computer chips. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy shakes loose electrons from their atoms, allowing those electrons to flow through the material in order to produce electricity. This process of converting light (photons) into electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic effect.
Solar cells are usually put together into modules that hold about forty cells. Then ten of the forty-cell modules are mounted on flat plate arrays (known as solar panels). These flat-plate PV arrays can be mounted at a fixed angel facing south, or they can be mounted on a tracking device that follows the sun, allowing them to capture the most sunlight over the course of a day. Ten to twenty PV arrays can provide enough power for the average American household. Hundreds interconnected are needed for large electricity utility or industrial applications.
Solar technology continues to advance. Thin-film solar cells made of layered semiconductor materials that are only a few micrometers thick make possible roof shingles and tiles, building facades and window glazing made of photovoltaic material. These shingles and glazing are just as productive and durable as conventional shingles and glazing.
ADVANTAGES OF SOLAR PANELS:
-No carbon emissions. No pollution, no waste.
-Being free (at least partially) from power companies. No more dependence on the power grid system, no more being at the mercy of outages and rate hikes.
DISADVANTAGES OF SOLAR PANELS:
-Price. The average cost for a home installation is $35,000. There are two types of solar panel systems: the solar thermal system and the solar electric system. The solar thermal system is less expensive and can cost as little as $7,700 but a typical solar electric system costs about $44,000. Rebates are available for the installation of the solar panels.
– They must be protected from mechanical damage ( in particular hail impact, wind and snow loads, ice). This is especially important for water-based silicon cells which are brittle.
-Some people think that they look ugly up there on the roof.
Alas, solar energy may be the way to go if the necessary funds are available for installation and there is an interest in reducing the human impact on the environment.