It’s easy to focus on the benefits of solar panels. For instance, they tap into a renewable energy source, provide free electricity, are easy to install, and have a long life expectancy. However, to be an educated consumer, it’s also important to consider the disadvantages of solar energy. Here’s what to know before you install solar panels on your property.
Solar Panels Require an Investment
Despite falling prices, the cost to purchase and install solar panels is still relatively high. The good news is that governments and utilities offer tax incentives, rebates, and subsidies to help offset the upfront investment. Once solar panels are in place, they generate free electricity for at least 25 years.
Solar Energy is Intermittent
The biggest performance problem is that solar energy is weather-dependent. The sun must shine directly on the panels for them to produce energy. This means overcast days can interrupt the electricity supply. Solar energy also cannot be collected at night.
Solar Energy Storage is Expensive
Traditionally, solar energy must be used right away, or it goes to waste. This isn’t the case if you have solar batteries, which can store excess energy for use on rainy days and at night. Unfortunately, solar energy storage costs are quite high. Tech companies around the world are focusing their efforts on developing more affordable energy storage to combat this issue.
Large-Scale Solar Requires a Lot of Land
Solar farms can generate impressive amounts of energy, but they take up a lot of space. A utility-scale system requires 3.5 to 10 acres per megawatt, enough to power about 150 to 200 US homes. Such installations reduce the land available for growing food and degrade natural habitats. The land requirements can be reduced by choosing low-quality areas for solar farms and installing panels on existing structures when possible.
Solar Technology Requires Rare Materials
Photovoltaic (PV) panels are produced with rare materials, many of which are collected as byproducts of other processes rather than mined from the earth. As a result, solar panel supplies don’t always keep up with demand. Recycling PV panels more responsibly and advancing nanotechnology to increase solar-cell efficiency could help with this problem.
Solar Panels Have an Environmental Downside
A major environmental downside of solar energy is that panels contain many of the same hazardous materials as consumer electronics. This is a growing concern as decades-old solar panels reach the end of their lifecycle. Even so, the reduced greenhouse emissions of solar energy still make it an attractive alternative to fossil fuels, especially if proper panel recycling and disposal occur.
No energy source is perfect, but the future of solar is bright, despite these drawbacks. If you’re interested in installing solar panels on your property, get in touch with Infinity Energy. We’re passionate about helping our customers in NJ, NY, and CT save energy and money with solar panels. Check out our solar calculator to see how much you can save, and explore our gallery to view some past projects. Then, contact us to learn how we’re making solar energy more affordable.