The electrical energy we consume in our day-to-day life is being generated from different sources such as renewable and non-renewable energy sources. To avoid the depletion of non-renewable energy sources like coal, diesel, and so on, the renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, etc., are mostly preferable for electricity generation.
Solar power is the much more reliable renewable energy source compared to other renewable as well as non-renewable energy resources which are generally used for electrical power generation. Because, the solar energy is available freely in the nature and with so much information & details are available about solar energy, the realities about the solar technology and its uses are sometimes disguised by the myths. This article aims to oust those false impressions and mistaken beliefs so that the interested people can take an educated and appropriate decision to get into this field.
Solar Energy Myths and Facts
Myth 1: Solar energy is only viable or reliable in summer season
Solar Energy Technologies can be classified into two categories.
(i) Solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) Technologies & (ii) Solar Thermal Technologies.
Solar PV systems are used to produce the electricity (Electrical Energy) but solar thermal technology can be used for the heat and/or electricity production or for mechanical work too. The technology, which uses the most out of above two is Solar PV Technology. Solar PV uses sunlight to produce the electricity which is shown in the figure. Solar PV systems never work on heat or temperature. On the contrary the heat creates losses in the electricity production and/or supply.
Solar water heaters installed on the top of the buildings do work on heat from the sun. So they work less efficiently during the winter or monsoon seasons, however the solar water heater, or any solar system for that fact, is designed and engineered in such way that it meets our maximum demands throughout the year in worst solar conditions. Remarkably Germany, which is not well-known for its sunny skies, is one of the world leaders in the Solar PV Technology and its uses. Hence, just because the area you live in is cool solar PV systems don’t work there is a misconception.
Myth 2: Solar energy cannot power the whole city or village
Many experts and industrialists claim that solar power systems are not sufficient to power the village or any city on its own, they need to be accompanied by fossil fuel systems. Residential solar panels are emerging as one of the best solution for this situation. They are grid connected at all the time hence your house is not left without electricity at any time. Excess electricity produced by any house system can be fed back to the grid and get paid for that at a higher price than what a resident buys the electricity at. Solar Mega Watt (MW) PV systems are as good as any other conventional power plants in terms of the electricity production except the area it requires. The combination of individual residential solar systems and solar MW power plant can meet the demand of any village or city throughout the year.
Myth 3: Making solar PV panel takes more energy than it can produce in its life
Solar PV panels payback generally in 4-7 years, with excess government and NGO grants it can come down to 1 -4 years. They last for more than 25-30 years and hence during this working period they produce the environmentally friendly electricity for more than 17-25 years at least.
Myth 4: Solar systems could damage the building structures
The solar PV system is the most reliable and safe electricity production method that it can practically be installed over hospitals or educational institutions even. They don’t have any moving parts and any hazardous gases or materials, in the system, hence it does not harm any civil structures or environment associated.
Myth 5: It is not possible to move the system once it is installed
It’s surely difficult to move around the solar power packs (Solar Systems) however it is not impossible. The system is sometimes heavy (depending on the size of the system) and might need time to disassemble and reassemble the system at the new place, but the best part about it that one can start having electricity at the new place as soon as the system is installed.
Myth 6: Solar system technologies are improving quickly so it is better to wait
Improvement is the nature of technology. It surely is improving, but that doesn’t mean the benefits one can get now are going to double or triple in the future. The benefits which are available in current time are going to be changed in future when the technology matures completely. E.g. one might not get any subsidy on the system, because the cost of the overall system should come down in the future. Hence it might not make dramatic changes in the near future and waiting for such time doesn’t make any sense if you can contribute to the environment now.
Myth 7: Solar power is very expensive
Solar power production is expensive due to the overall cost of the system and hence the governmental and non-governmental subsidies are implemented to reduce the burden on the owner. However, it is only true for the first few years as the system requires heavy capital cost, but that runs for longer time and can gradually provide economic benefits which would not be available to those who doesn’t use such technology.
E.g. Once the solar system is installed, one has secured the guaranteed electricity supply for at least 25 years with little maintenance on electrical side and also have locked-down the electricity prices for the same period as that person would not have to pay the price to anyone (electricity supplying companies) for utilizing the electricity, which generally increases every year. Another truth is that the prices of solar systems have come down dramatically in the past few years and is expected to keep on falling.
Myth 8: Solar systems need tracking device to follow the sun
It is easy, but very important to understand the sun-path and solar patterns of the location before installing such equipment. The tilt-angle of solar panels can be kept in such a way that maximum of the time in a day the panels are exposed to sunlight. Solar panels do not direct sunlight following on them (however, in such scenario the amount of electricity produced is expected more) hence in day time in a decent amount of sunlight the panels continuously produce electricity even if kept in unmovable situation.
Myth 9: Subsidies for solar energy is why electricity bills for conventional energy are going up
The subsidy amount for domestic solar plants account less than 10% for any country currently, which is expected to come further down in near future.
Myth 10: Solar panels will cause my roof to leak, deteriorate, or collapse
Solar panels actually protect and preserve the portion of the roof they cover. If there’s ever a problem with the roof that needs to be repaired, panels can easily be removed. Most solar panels are not attached directly to the roof itself, but rather to a mounted railing system. Installers add sealants to fill in any gaps and often the mounts are surrounded by metal “flashing,” or coverings that act as an extra barrier from the elements. Note: if your roof is already leaking or needs to be replaced, it makes sense to make roof repairs first before installing solar panels.
Are you interested in developing and designing new innovative electronics projects based on solar energy? Then, post your ideas and doubts in the comments section below for further more technical assistance.