Disadvantages Of Solar Energy – Real, Overstated Or Imagined?



The disadvantages of solar energy are often overlooked when it comes to promoting the benefits and encouraging people to make use of this wonderful renewable energy resource.

There are definitely some real disadvantages, as we shall see, although it must be said that many of these disadvantages are becoming less of a factor as time goes by.

So let's have a closer look...

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

  • The high cost of your initial investment is probably the number one concern and the principal reason why such a small percentage of the world population are using solar energy to power their homes. However, it is important to note that the cost is coming down significantly as the technology improves and the demand increases. Also potential customers need to do their homework in terms of payback time on their investment. If it takes ten years to recover your investment you need to see that in terms of the longer term when you are simply getting free energy and maybe even profiting from selling excess electricity to your national grid.

  • Space requirements can also be an issue. Large roof or ground areas may be necessary to install a sufficient number of solar panels or solar collectors to generate the power or heat you require. This can be a real issue in inner city populations where the available space is severely limited. Again, as the technology improves and solar panels become more efficient, the space requirements will reduce.

    The space issue can also be overcome by the siting of large scale solar farms in open areas. These large scale operations can power thousands of homes from the one installation. As developments like these occur the disadvantages of solar energy will lessen indeed.


  • Location is an influential factor as the sun doesn't shine everywhere in the same proportion. Latitude is a key factor and the further from the equator the greater the issue as the hours of available sunlight decreases. Some areas also experience much more prevalent cloud conditions, which restricts the amount of sunlight reaching the earth.

    Again we need to see it in perspective. For example, the city of Churchill in Canada, a fair way North you would agree, latitude 58.73°N, you can get an average of 4.16 hours of sunlight per day, ranging from 1.61 hrs in November to 6.96 in April. Now if you install a solar panel system of a certain configuration (see link below) then you can generate, on average, 4800 Kw-hrs of electricity per year. That's enough to make a good size dent in your electricity bill.

    The US Dept of Energy solar calculator, PVWATTS, shows the data for Churchill...

    PVWATTS Calculator


  • Solar energy is not an entirely clean energy. Mostly, people would say that it is because it doesn't pollute the atmosphere in producing heat and electricity. However, there are a couple of cautionary factors that need to be remembered and addressed. Firstly, the photovoltaic cells in solar panels contain toxic compounds, cadmium telluride, for example, so that care needs to be taken when solar panels are being disposed of at the end of their useful life. Secondly, the battery banks often used in conjunction with solar panels, contain dangerous substances such as lead and sulphuric acid. Proper disposal is again an important issue.
If you haven't yet visited our page on Advantages Of Solar Energy then you need to have a look.

In any event, it is fair to conclude that the disadvantages of solar energy are not imagined - they are real. However, they are also overstated. With improved technology many of those disadvantages will become insignificant.

Furthermore, with future increasing growth within the industry and good policy decisions by national and regional governments around the world, the advantage of solar energy will rise to the fore.

All it requires is for you to invest in it!

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