Solar energy is the heat and the light energy that we receive from the sun. The radiations emitted by the sun are a result of the nuclear reactions happening deep in the sun’s core. Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of non-conventional or renewable sources of energy. The energy received from the sun’s radiations can be easily converted into electrical or thermal energy by employing the law of conservation of energy. This resultant energy can be further used for commercial and personal consumption.
Types of Solar Energy Systems
Based on the setup and the process being used to generate electrical or thermal energy from the sun’s radiation. Solar energy systems can be classified into two types:
1. Active Solar
An active system of generating solar energy makes use of PV panels to collect energy. This energy is then fed to hydraulic or air collectors, which use water or air to convert the light and heat energy into electrical energy.
2. Passive Solar
A passive system of generating solar energy does not require external devices for operation. Instead, it makes use of glass windows that absorb and store heat. They use convection to store and produce thermal energy.
1. Reduced Electricity Bills
Being abundantly available in nature, there are no charges applied to use solar energy except for the installation charges. Therefore, by employing solar energy in daily life, electricity bills can be reduced to some extent. This reduction of the bill depends upon personal usage or consumption. However, even if a small portion of our daily life appliances dedicatedly works on solar energy, a significant drop in electricity bills can be observed.
2. Range of Applications
Solar energy is capable of covering a wide range of applications such as solar water heaters, solar cookers, etc. The latest innovation of solar transparent window glasses allows the buildings to be solar energy equipped without any special installation of the solar panels. This shall enable many of the daily life applications, currently running on hydro-power electrical energy to be successfully replaced by solar-generated electrical energy.
3. Low Maintenance Costs
Solar devices do not contain any moving parts. Also, they do not incorporate any heavy machinery. Therefore, there exist fewer chances of wear and tear problems. The solar panels often come with a warranty time period and do not demand heavy upkeeping, except for the regular cleaning, to increase their lifetime. Therefore, the appliances that work on solar power do not require to undergo maintenance procedures very frequently. This is one of the most prominent advantages of using solar energy.
4. Future Scope
Currently, only 2% of the total energy being consumed in the world is derived from solar energy. But, solar technology holds a bright future for the upcoming generations. With the innovation and advancement of technology, a lot of domains, both personal and commercial, are planning to switch to solar energy. Therefore, solar energy has the potential to raise employment chances for youth in the near future.
5. Energy Efficient
The solar devices are comparatively eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and cleaner in nature. Solar energy helps in saving the environment from being misused or overused. According to a recent survey, 60-80% of people believe and support the ideology of substantial development. The increase in awareness about climate-friendly environmental management has evoked an aim in the minds of people to develop new strategies that allow us to arise progressively in terms of technology without harming mother nature. Encouraging the use of solar energy, which is one of the prime sources of non-conventional energy, serves as a significant contribution to substantial development.
6. Renewable resource
Solar energy is directly extracted from the sun and is available in abundance. Other sources of energy such as coal, petroleum, etc. are estimated to go extinct within a few decades. Unlike these conventional sources of energy, solar energy is present infinitely. The renewability of energy is a major asset because renewable sources of energy are able to credibly combat climate change. Therefore, solar energy serves to be an ideal replacement for conventional energy sources.
Supply generated by solar energy is comparatively safer than the other traditional electricity supply. Solar energy-based devices are less prone to accidents. Also, usage of solar energy ensures shielding from harmful radiations as well as protection from mishappenings and tragedy.
1. Weather Dependent
Solar energy, as the name suggests, can only be utilized in presence of the sunlight. Therefore, it becomes very difficult to extract or employ solar energy in rainy and cloudy weather. However, if the efficiency of the panel is increased, it can manage to collect energy to some extent. The weather dependence of solar panels is the major drawback to harvest solar energy.
2. Storage Complexities
During rainy or cloudy weather, the reception of solar energy is low. During these days of the crisis, the power is required to be backed-up and stored. The solar panels are proficient in generating DC power only. This power is stored in batteries to be used later at night and during adverse weather conditions. The cost of these batteries is high, and with time, they need to be replaced. Thereby, creating storage and maintenance complexities.
3. Uses a Lot of Space
Typically, a single plate of solar panels is 1×1 feet wide and generates almost 12v DC power. In order to collect high voltage, we need to connect many such panels in series. For an increased number of panels, we need a lot of space. It is not possible for each and every consumer to issue a large portion of land for the installment of solar panels. Therefore, the expanded nature of the panels serves to be a demerit.
4. Toxic Pollutants
Despite being a clean alternative to fuel, solar energy, still, somehow, contributes to the release of toxic pollutants such as greenhouse gases; however, the content of the excreted pollutants is comparatively lower than the other energy harvesting systems.
5. High Installation Cost
The only expense a person is required to pay in order to access solar energy is the installation cost, which is quite high as compared to other technologies. The installation of an active solar energy system mainly requires solar panels that capture the sun’s radiations and convert these radiations to electrical energy, batteries to store the power, and inverters that provide us required stabilized voltages. All these elements are bulky and expensive. This is the most fundamental reason that restricts the use of solar technology on a larger scale.
6. Less Power and Speed
As compared to the traditional fuel-based vehicles, solar energy-based vehicles are capable of pumping less power. Solar cars do not reach the speed that a normal gas-powered car can easily reach. This is one reason that makes solar vehicles less preferable by a majority of people.
7. Unavailability of Skilled Personnel
Since solar technology is newly launched, it is difficult to find skilled people who have prior experience and expertise in the field. Hence, maintenance and handling becomes tough.