Pros & Cons of Solar Energy

Before you install solar panels on your home or business, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of what this could impact.

Pros of Solar Energy

By installing you solar you can live a very sustainable lifestyle and offset rising utility costs that increase by 2-3% each year. The average homeowner will pay almost $100,000 to the electric company by the time they pay off a standard 30-year mortgage.

Here are some reasons you should go solar:

  1. It is an energy source that is renewable and inexhaustible.
  2. You can get sunlight virtually anywhere on the Earth.
  3. It's well suited for solar batteries and other energy storage solutions protecting you from power outages.
  4. It's a growing job market that is expected to grow by over 400% by 2050.
  5. The cost of solar installations continues to go down with advancing technology and better financing options.
  6. You can offset nearly 100% of your energy costs by installing solar panels saving you thousands of dollars per year.
  7. There are tons of incentives, tax credits and grants for solar that can help you save up to 30% of your installation costs.

Cons of Solar Energy

Even though solar energy has several advantages, there are still some drawbacks that may make some homeowners or business owners hesitant.

Here are some reasons you shouldn't go solar:

  1. It can still be expensive to install solar panels depending on your needs and solar system design.
  2. The cost to store solar energy is still fairly high when it comes to solar batteries or solar power generators.
  3. A roof-mounted solar system may not work for every roof type forcing you to install a ground-mounted solar system instead which can take up desirable yard space.
  4. Your solar panels will not produce energy at night as they require sunlight to be effective and their efficiency can lower during storms or gloomy days.
  5. If you have too many trees providing shade over your home then solar may not be best for you.

Environmental Impact

Once the system is installed, solar energy boasts positive environmental impacts. Greenhouse gasses are reduced and as well as air pollution as fossil fuels are not being burned to generate electricity. However, other factors that contribute to the installation of a solar energy system bring about negative impacts. Rare toxic materials are used to construct solar panels as well as the burning of fossil fuels to manufacture them. It is important to understand that speaking in the long-term, implementing a solar energy system uses less fossil fuels than that of burning fossil fuels to produce the same amount of electricity. Land use can be another concern as some argue that the land would be more beneficial if used in other ways. However, there are multiple ways to use the land in many ways like through Agrivoltaics which combines agricultural practices with solar energy systems on the same area of land. 

Economic Considerations

It is important to understand economic considerations before implementing a solar energy system. Energy cost savings that come with implementing a system can be a major financial benefit. Both at the state level and federally, there is availability of financial incentives and tax credits that can help fund a system. These are great opportunities to lower initial costs which helps to quicken the payback period. Job creation and installation in various areas can help bring revenue to remote locations and create jobs for locals in different communities as well. 

Energy Independence and Resilience

Implementing solar energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels and drives energy independence as it limits the need for foreign energy sources. Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels helps to limit carbon emissions and encourage others to support the transition to a clean energy future. Solar energy helps to drive energy resilience and can supply vital loads in time of grid blackouts. As utility costs rise, solar will continue to become an increasing feasible energy source. 

Grid Integration and Infrastructure Challenges

When implementing grid-tied systems, challenges can arise. Solar intermittency nature determines production which influences the amount of power sent to the grid. It can be difficult for utilities to predict production which can result in integration issues. Energy storage solutions can help to mitigate grid integration issues along with the development of advanced grid infrastructure. As the number of solar energy systems increases, ongoing research and technological advancements will continue to address grid integration challenges.

Social Implications

Remote areas and low income communities may oftentimes not have access to grid power. Solar energy systems can aid in improving energy access to these areas. Affordability and access are often concerns in terms of social equity issues that arise with solar energy. Various grants and partnerships are available to help increase affordability and expand access to mitigate social implications.

Bottom Line

Solar energy is both advantageous and disadvantageous in environmental, economical and financial terms. It is essential to weigh the importance of various pros and cons. Having a balanced understanding of the benefits and challenges of solar energy is crucial. Informed decision making and the continuation of research and development is necessary to maximize the benefits of solar energy.