The Disadvantages of Solar Power

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

We all constantly hear how good solar power is, but one cannot present a convincing argument without looking at both sides of the story. While solar power has many benefits, it also has its drawbacks.

The first is also the most obvious. Namely, that the sun does not always shine. While cool weather and overcast days do not cause solar panels to stop functioning entirely, such conditions will reduce their output. For this reason alone, the likelihood of solar power being the only solution to the energy crisis of the future is slim. It is simply not possible, even in the hottest regions, to depend on solar energy entirely for a country’s electricity supply.

This is an important consideration, but not one that is particularly dominant if you are merely thinking of having solar panels installed on your roof. In the average home owners case, the demands on your solar panels will be far less than an entire country could generate. You will not be expecting it to power your home entirely forevermore, so providing you acknowledge the possible limitations of solar panels during the coldest and wettest months, you should be able to get by.

The other important disadvantage of solar power is the cost. Again using the idea of an average home owner; the installation of panels and conversion of your energy sources is a time consuming and costly process. While you will eventually recoup any investment by saving on your usual utility bills, for many the up front costs are prohibitive.

However, while these considerations are not small, they do not mean that solar power is not one of the most viable ways of generating renewable energy. The sun is our greatest resource, and it is somewhat surprising it has taken until now for us to utilise it fully.

Solar Panels and Overcast Days

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

There is a general misconception that solar panels, used to generate electricity and energy from the sun, do not work on overcast or cloudy days. This continues into the belief that solar panels are only useful during the summer months, rendering this form of renewable energy somewhat useless for half of the year during winter.

It is easy to understand where these misconceptions come from. Solar panels need solar light (and it is assumed, heat) to function; without sun rays hitting the panels, it would make sense that no energy could be produced.

However, there is a difference in what we consider to be the sun’s power and what is the actual power of the sun. We as humans associate solar rays with strong, yellow sunshine in a cloudless sky; the kind of weather conditions that have you reaching for a hat and for sunblock. While solar panels will flourish in these conditions, just because the sky is overcast or the temperature is low does not mean solar panels will cease to function.

This is because the sun is always casting rays down on earth, even if there is cloud cover interrupting its route to the surface of our planet. Many people each year, much to their surprise, find themselves suffering sunburn on what appeared to be a cloudy and overcast day. This is because the sunlight is still getting through, but it is just more filtered and obstructed than usual.

For solar energy, the important part of the above sentence is that the sun is still getting through. Even when we would consider the sun not to be shining, it is – unless it is night time! Solar panels are therefore able to function in most weather conditions, albeit with reduced output.

An Introduction To Solar Power

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

We hear a lot about so-called renewable energy in the modern world. As the effects of global warming – or climate change, depending on your preferred terminology – become more apparent, the need to find a way to generate energy without damaging the Earth becomes all the more important.

One of the most talked about methods of making energy is solar power. As the name would suggest, solar power involves taking the energy of the sun and using that energy to generate electricity on Earth. While solar power is not a new concept, it is nevertheless looking like it will receive much focus during the search for renewable energies.

Solar power works by concentrating the heat of the sun in a specific place. To do this, solar panels or heliostats are erected in the sun’s glare, where they capture heat. The surfaces of these panels are usually mirrored or shiny, so as to increase the already potent heat of the sun. This heat is then used to generate electricity through a variety of methods; the most common of these is to use the heat to boil water and general steam, which is then used to power a traditional electricity generator.

Solar power is not infallible as a technology, but it is more reliable than was first previously thought. Despite popular conviction, it is possible to generate electricity using solar panels on overcast days, which opens the technologies up to most countries. For solar power to be truly effective, however, the panels need to be placed where they receive continual sunlight and heat throughout the year. For this reasons, countries such as Spain are becoming the pioneers of solar power – though their scientific advances will eventually benefit us all.