Solar energy is one of the renewable energy sources that are freely available for harnessing. Here, energy from the sun is captured to create photovoltaic power (PV), mostly in form of direct current (DC). This captured energy from the sun can be used in different ways, such: generation of electricity in homes, powering electric cars, heating purposes, ventilation purposes (using solar attic fans), etc. The popularity of the solar energy sector is gradually becoming popular as year go by, and is gradually replacing almost all fossil fuel use cases. In this article, you will learn the various uses, advantages and disadvantages of the solar PV energy technology.
Other Renewable Energy Sources
Solar energy is not the only renewable energy. Some other renewable energy sources include:
- Biomass Fuels: Unprocessed plant materials (like firewood) combusted to generate heat.
- Biofuels: Fuel produced by the processing plant materials, such as Jatropha.
- Ethanol: Fuel produced by the processing of sugar cane.
- Wind: The harnessing of mechanical energy of wind (captured by wind turbines) to generate electricity or pump water.
- Hydro-power: The harnessing of mechanical energy of flowing water (captured by hydro turbines) to generate electricity or pump water.
- Biogas: The production of cooking gas (methane) by the anaerobic digestion of organic waste matter, such as agricultural waste or animal waste.
Advantages of Solar PV System/Technology
The advantages of the solar PV technology are numerous. Below are some of them.
- Solar energy is called clean-green energy because during the generation of electricity via solar PV, there are no emission of harmful greenhouse gases. This makes solar energy environment-friendly (not a source of environmental pollution).
- Also, because solar energy is supplied by nature, it is free and abundant (the source does not deplete with time, unlike fossil fuels).
- The solar PV technology has very high promising future, both for environmental viability and economic sustainability.
- Another great advantage of using solar energy is that it has very low (almost negligible) operating and maintenance costs when compared to other renewable energy systems.
- Also, solar PV systems do not generate noise, as there are no mechanically moving parts involved, except in the case of sun-tracking mechanical bases. So this means that the system has the lowest breakage (breakdown) probability.
Disadvantages of Solar PV System/Technology
As you know, anything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage, but then, the advantages of solar PV systems far outweigh the disadvantages. Below are some of the disadvantages or challenges of the solar PV technology.
- Solar energy is not always available, especially when there is no sunlight, usually at night, or during rainy or cloudy days. This challenge also applies to other renewable energy sources. This intermittency and unpredictable nature of solar energy makes it a less reliable energy source. But for a continuous supply of electric power using solar energy, you can include batteries for energy storage for later use, especially in periods of less solar energy production.
- The cost of installing a solar PV system is very high when compared to some other renewable energy systems because you need to buy some of the solar PV system components, such as: battery, inverters, charge controllers, solar cables, etc. But note this high installation cost occur once, as these components can serve you for many years without need for replacement or maintenance if properly used.
- Efficiency of solar panels are relatively low (around 14% to 25%) when compared to the efficiency levels of some other renewable energy systems.
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So, you can see that the solar energy technology has come to stay, and has a great promising future. The solar PV technology is still under development. Life has been a lot easier with the evolution of electric cars that can be powered by solar PV systems, solar refrigeration, solar welding machines, solar water heaters (using evacuated tube solar geyser), solar milk pasteurizers, solar crop dryers, etc. There are more to come from the solar PV technology.
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