The world today has shrunk by into a small village because of technology. Movement has been quickened, and as a result, people are moving from one place to another searching for information. Information is power. People are using this information to empower themselves financially. The empowerment by the use of technology has made the demand of electricity grow by the day. However, the demand for power is high compared to the supply. In economics, increased demand leads to increase in price per unit of a commodity. In addition to cost, water and other elements used to generate electricity are not available in all regions. In that light research is being conducted to come up with alternative power sources since most people have been relying on hydroelectric power, and other sources such as geothermal. One of such inventions is the solar power, which was discovered in the mid twentieth century. The first known solar power stations in the world were installed in 1980 in California. However, the solar technology has spread to many regions of the world now, and many people are benefiting from it day by day.
Solar technology converts the light from the sun into electricity. This is done directly by the use of photovoltaics, or indirectly by concentrating solar power. The systems that concentrate power from solar do so by use of mirrors or lenses combined with tracking systems so that they focus a large a big light area into a micro beam (Reuters, 2013).
Advantages of Solar Energy
First of all, there is no greenhouse effect advantage. The advantages of using solar energy cannot be overemphasized. The use of solar energy has seen the reduction of fossil fuel production, and the minimal use of fuels which emit gases that cause the greenhouse effect. The use of solar energy does not make a contribution to such gases on any level which is beyond beating the panels.
Secondly, free energy advantage of solar energy. Solar energy has zero operational cost and no maintenance cost. Apart from installation costs, solar energy requires no more costs. This makes it cheap, unlike other nonrenewable sources of power which require operation costs every now and then. Nowadays, installation costs are relatively low, with up to 30 years warrant. Simultaneously, the life expectancy of solar panels is around 40 years.
Solar energy enables decentralization of power. This means that most locations have become self-reliant in terms of energy. Unlike other sources of power, solar energy does not cause additional costs. These costs include road wear, monetary costs as well as transportation pollution costs. There is no doubt, decentralization of power is not completely effective as some areas receive less sunlight than other areas.
One more advantage is off the grid power production with solar. This is a considerable advantage of solar energy. Off the grid means independence from the national electricity connections. Electricity has become relatively expensive. Installation costs of electricity are higher than most people in isolated areas can afford. In addition, operational and maintenance costs of electricity are also very high, leading to regular power cuts in these isolated areas. Electricity has become expensive to all, even city dwellers. This has made most of them decide to live off the grid. This is an attempt to self-reliant in terms of power (Reuters, 2013).
Solar energy has led to job creations. There is a lot in solar energy that requires manpower. Although solar energy comprises a very small percentage of world’s power, it is promising in job creation. If this industry can expand, it can offer more jobs than any other source of power has so far offered. For example, the solar industry in Europe has seen the creation of 100,000 employment opportunities. Some of the jobs that come with solar energy include research and designing, cultural integration, development, manufacturing of solar panels, maintenance and monitoring of solar panels as well as policing jobs.
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Solar energy can avoid price volatility and politics. These two factors have dominated fossils fuel markets. They have contributed to the increase in energy prices since fossil fuels are scarce and are only available in limited locations. On the contrary, solar energy is plenty and can be sourced from all corners of the world. Therefore, it is difficult to manipulate the prices of solar energy. This makes it possible to maintain low prices of solar energy. It is speculated that the prices of solar energy will continue lowering as technology advances.
Solar energy saves livelihoods and eco-systems solar energy is environmental friendly. This is because it does not rely on nonrenewable raw materials. Therefore, it does not result in deterioration of the environment. That way, it conserves the eco-system balance. Fossil fuels extraction has caused a lot of destruction to the ecosystem. Irresponsible extraction of raw materials has seen mass destruction of the environment and the eco-system as a whole. Solar energy cannot have irresponsible extraction, thus cannot cause any harm to the environment.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Along with the advantages of solar energy, there are some disadvantages that limit the effectiveness of the same. If these limitations find solutions, then solar energy will be the most effective source of electricity.
Night limitation of solar energy. Solar energy can only be extracted during the day. Therefore, there must be ways of preserving it to use at the night. This works as a limitation to solar energy. This limitation affects solar energy production during seasons of low sunlight radiations and few sunlight hours, such as winters. Thus, either a means to store solar energy or a supplement should be in place.
Solar inefficiency. Solar panels convert a very small percentage of sun’s energy into electricity. That makes it very inefficient and requiring solar panels with large surfaces to increase conversion of sun’s energy into electricity. This makes it impossible for mass production of solar energy. If this is dealt with, production cost of solar energy would be even lower. Mass production would ensure a constant supply of solar electricity at all times.
Storage challenge. There is a dire need to store solar energy, but the storage technology of solar energy is not up to date. The means currently in use, in solar energy storage are not storing effectively. This leads to solar energy shortages in moments when it is not under production. For solar energy to be effective there must be ways of conveniently storing it.
Solar panels’ bulky nature. Solar panels are bulky, thus, it makes them inconvenient to transport and handle. As aforementioned, a large surface is required to maximize conversion of solar energy into electricity. This calls for large solar panels, thus making them quite bulky. This makes handling them require special skills and care (2011).
Initial cost disadvantage. Although, solar energy is free, to install the whole system of harvesting solar energy and converting it to electricity is expensive. Large sums of money are needed to purchase and install all the equipment and devices necessary for solar energy conversion into electricity. This cost is not affordable to many. Once the system is in place, solar energy flows freely without any more charges. If there are some ways of reducing the initial cost, then solar energy would be the best that there is.