Disadvantages of Solar Power Disadvantages of Solar Power
Solar power is an intriguing and hopeful prospect for the future of energy consumption. The idea has been around for a long time, but only recently has the political will reached a point of taking action on a wide scale. Nevertheless, the debate over alternative forms of energy remains highly politicized. The issues of peak oil, global warming and the solutions they require are enough to stir the emotions no matter which position one takes. There is hope, for alternative energy sources, from solar to wind to wave power. With all of the advantages they have over fossil fuel consumption, they are still at a disadvantage due to, among other things, the high cost of development and widespread use. The entire industrial world runs off of fossil fuel intakes, and many think it is unrealistic to expect alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels overnight. The advantages of solar power must always be brought up in a discussion, but so too must the disadvantages in order to have the most honest debate.
Solar Power Basics
Solar power is a relatively simple concept to understand, although there are many fine and technical points to it. Basically, solar power works by capturing the sun’s energy and storing it in cells. These cells are grouped together in panels and positioned so that they are exposed to the maximum amount of sunlight. Through what is called the photovoltaic process, captured sunlight is converted into direct current electricity which is then converted into alternating current electricity. At that point, it is usable in homes and buildings. It is an extremely clean energy source with no toxic side effects other than the spent solar cells that do not last forever.
Disadvantages of Solar Power
There are, disadvantages to solar power that must be addressed. The first is cost. Because the infrastructure is set up to run on fossil fuels, it can be quite expensive to transform even one house into a solar powered domicile. The average price per kilowatt hour is $.95. This price goes up by a factor of three for solar power production when the price of solar panel and component parts installation is included. By some estimates, for every square foot of photovoltaic panels, a home or business owner must spend between $7 and $10. That can get expensive considering that one square foot of solar panel makes 14 watts of power on average.
Other disadvantages include a home’s location relative to the sun and how much sunlight any given region receives. If your home is covered by evergreen trees, much less sun will shine upon it than a home in a wide open field. Regional sunlight, too, plays a role. Solar power is a lot more feasible in Southern California than it is Fargo, North Dakota.
A Disadvantage Not Often Considered
One big disadvantage that is not often talked about is that solar panels require fossil fuel inputs for their production, transport and maintenance. If solar power is seriously considered as a replacement to the fossil fuel infrastructure, it is logically false to think that fossil fuels can be used to equip the nation and world with solar panels.
Solar power has many stunning advantages over fossil fuels, but it also poses some serious questions as to its validity on a massive scale. Any honest debate about the future of energy consumption must include both the pros and cons of all alternative energy sources. Only then can the problem be adequately solved.