Life would not be possible if it were not for the Sun and its beneficial energy. Without the sun giving us much needed light and radiation, plants would not grow nor would it be possible for us to grow any crops; even our bodies require a certain amount of solar light to function normally. So we would not exactly be wrong in claiming that the Sun is essential to all life on our planet from the smallest microorganism to the largest animal. But the other key aspect of our sun lies in the fact that we can tap it for renewable energy in the form of solar panels and solar energy. And given how the Sun is critical to all life on earth, perhaps it is time that we took a closer look at the positive and negative impacts of solar energy.
The positive impact of solar energy
- Low utility bills: Solar panels are utilized to generate solar energy; we can use photovoltaic cells to generate the required amount of electricity and feed the excess back into the electrical grid. This should result in lower utility bills; moreover, not much is required to power the solar cells other than exposing them to direct sunlight. By utilizing solar panels, we should be able to save big on utility bills.
- Zero emission: One of the reasons that we are currently facing global warming is on account of the fact that we emit excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases when generating energy. The good news is that solar panels do not emit any noxious gases and come with zero emission tag. It should be pointed out that there may be some emission of greenhouse gases during the installation and the initial period; but once the panels are installed, it should drop to negligible levels.
- Water and land: Large amounts of water are often used in the generation of electricity and often large tracts of land would be required for the same purpose. However, when it comes to solar energy, no water is required for the photovoltaic panels to generate electricity nor do we require large installations for the same. The solar panels can be installed on the roof, in direct view of the sunlight while the meter can be installed downstairs. Moreover, solar panels do not require much by way of maintenance and can be easily installed, cleaned and maintained, at regular periods.
Negative impacts of solar energy
- Expensive: Solar energy can be tagged as ‘expensive’, the cost to install solar energy panels on the roof can cost a bit but this is a one-time cost, which we can view as an investment in a renewable form of energy. Several vendors list great offers with regard to solar panels and often provide free maintenance and a warranty coverage that exceeds 10+ years.
- Intermittent: The fact remains that we do not control the weather and during times of inclement weather, the solar panels will generate electricity on days when there’s optimum sunlight. Given this, the generation of solar power may be intermittent at best.
- Storage: When it comes to storage, excess power can be stored in solar batteries but they can be expensive. A better option would be to feed the excess power generated back to the local electrical grid and use the same to reduce the power tariff.
- Pollution: Solar energy is definitely less polluting when compared to fossil fuels but some of their manufacturing processes can result in greenhouse gas emission. Both Nitrogen Trifluoride and Sulfur Hexafluoride, some of the most potent noxious greenhouse gases, can be traced back to the manufacture of these solar panels. These gases are more insidious and about a thousand times more harmful than carbon dioxide which is why extreme care should be taken during the manufacturing process of these photovoltaic cells.
These are some of the positive and negative impacts of solar energy; solar energy is a renewable form of energy that we can use to generate electricity while resulting in zero emissions and even save big on utility bills. But it should be pointed out that the installation of solar panels can be a tad cost-prohibitive which is why it makes sense to go in for a monthly payment plan. Solar panels once installed should be easy to maintain and should function seamlessly, without a hitch for several years.