Top 6 Disadvantages of Solar Energy (Explained)

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With the ever-growing need for energy, what we need is a continuous source of energy. A continuous source of energy that is reliable, cheaper, cleaner, and most importantly, reduces the burden from the shoulders of non-renewable resources like coal and petroleum products.

Out of all the renewables, solar energy is one that can easily fulfill all the above-mentioned needs. In other words, Solar energy is reliable, comparatively cheaper, almost cleaner, and most importantly, it can reduce the burden from the shoulders of the non-renewables.

No wonder there are so many advantages of solar energy over non-renewable energy resources. But what we could not ignore is the number of disadvantages that come with the use of solar power.

Top 6 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

There are so many bad things about solar energy you definitely wanna know. These are the top 6 disadvantages of solar energy that I will be discussing with you today. Let’s dive right in…!!!

  • Availability of Sun
  • High Installation Cost
  • Low Efficiency
  • Requires Larger Installation Area
  • Solar does cause Pollution (Indirectly)
  • Issue with Energy storage

Availability of Sun

As per the physical laws of nature, the sun only shines during the daytime and the intensity of sunlight is maximum during summers. On the other hand, as per the definition of solar energy, in order to harness the power of the sun, what you need is a sun and the intensity of the sunlight.

To put it differently, the generation of electricity is directly proportional to the amount of sunlight a solar panel receives. Therefore, as a result, solar panels become useless during the nighttime and winter seasons.

Apart from the availability of the sun, the other factors that contribute to the reduction in the generation of electricity using solar power are cloudy weather, snow, your location where you live, Wind, storms, Pollution, and so on.


High Installation Cost

One of the biggest economic disadvantages of using solar energy is its installation cost. Yup, you heard me right. In order to install a complete solar system, what you need is tens of thousands of dollars. This includes solar panels, inverters, wiring, permits, paying off the solar installer, etc.

Though once installed, these systems normally require very little maintenance as compared to the other sources of electricity generation. Obviously, once in a while, you may have to call a maintenance guy for regular health check-ups and cleaning purposes. Apart from that, there are no extra expenses.

Not to mention, in order to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation, governments around the world are highly incentivizing and giving tax benefits to those who are installing solar panels for home or commercial purposes. These tax rebates and incentives are actually making solar energy more affordable.


Low Efficiency

The downside of solar panels includes their efficiency. Although the gap between the efficiency of solar panels and other energy resources has been narrowed down in 2021. Yet, it is one of the lowest among all. As per the latest technological advancements, most of the conventional solar panels’ efficiency rating is somewhere between 12% to 16%.

On the contrary, the efficiency of thermal power plants usually ranges between 35% to 49%. The efficiency of nuclear energy is somewhere around 50 to 55%. Similarly, the efficiency of hydropower plants is always more than 90%.

Just to let you know that the efficiency of solar energy is nothing but the percentage of solar energy being converted into electric energy via the photoelectric effect. Not to mention, there are some private manufacturers in the market that are able to manufacture solar panels with an efficiency rating as high as 21%.


Requires Larger Installation Area

Unlike all the other energy resources, installing solar panels requires a larger area. Since the solar efficiency rating is quite low, we need a larger area to install it properly. Okay, let me put it differently. Just because of the low-efficiency rate, to generate more electricity, we need a larger area to install more solar panels.

Not to mention, if you wanna install solar panels for your personal uses, you definitely won’t need a lot of space. Your rooftop will be more than enough for your energy consumption. However, for commercial purposes, you will definitely need a lot of space for solar installation.

Just to let you know, the current largest solar park in the world is the Bhadla Solar Park with a generation capacity of 2245 MW. In addition, the world’s largest photovoltaic station is spread over a total area of 14,000 acres in Bhadla, Phalodi tehsil, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, India.


Solar does cause Pollution (Indirectly)

No one can deny the fact that solar energy is one of the most environmentally friendly energy resources as compared to the other ones available. However, there are some minor disadvantages of solar energy to the environment. For example, unlike wind farms, you cannot use solar farms for agricultural purposes or grazing animals.

In fact, one of the most hazardous disadvantages of solar cells is the toxic materials used for their manufacturing process. The toxic and hazardous materials include cadmium, lead, gallium arsenide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, acetone, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, etc.


Issue with Energy Storage

Last but not least drawback of solar energy is the issue with energy storage. At first, there is already an issue with solar efficiency. Meaning you have to install more solar panels to generate more electricity. Second, suppose that somehow you are able to generate more electricity, you won’t be able to store it properly.

See, there are two ways to use solar power efficiently. You can either use energy at the same time as of generation. Or, else, you can store it for later use such as using it during night hours. But, for that, you have to buy the costly batteries to store it.

You will be devastated to know that it will cost you a hefty amount of money. This is one of the biggest reasons for people not switching to solar. Not to mention, you have to change solar batteries after some years that will simply make it a more money-consuming affair.


Some other Disadvantages of Solar Energy:

Apart from the above-mentioned drawbacks or disadvantages, I am also mentioning some of a few here.

  • Solar panels make your house look dull
  • Once installed, you can’t relocate it
  • Ultraviolet rays can severely damage solar panels
  • Solar panels do not work on every rooftop
  • You cannot install it yourself
  • Solar systems are still in their developing stage, etc.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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