Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Solar energy is an inexhaustible source of energy with the most potential as it will continue to produce solar power as long as the sun is there. Solar energy is totally free, widely available, produces no pollution, no emission and no noise which means generating solar power produces no carbon footprint. Among all the renewable energy sources available on Earth, solar energy is one of the most widely used renewable source of energy.

Solar energy has wide array of uses. It can be used to produce electricity, to run calculators, swimming pool heating, solar oven or solar cooker. Solar energy can now also be used to fly planes. This technology is however in its initial stage. In the year 2015, Solar Impulse , the first solar powered aircraft, started its Round-The-World flight from Abu Dhabi, on March 9. There is no doubt that solar energy is going to play a significant role in meeting demand supply gap for electricity.

However, solar energy has some of its own disadvantages and one must have a look at it before installing solar panels at his home.

Learn more about solar energy:


The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.
– Ralph Nader

Listed below are few of the major roadblocks related to cost, pollution, location, reliability that makes it impossible to harness energy throughout out the year.

1. Initial Cost: The initial cost of purchasing and installing solar panels always become the first disadvantage when the topic of solar energy comes up. The cost of installing solar panels is bit high. Although subsidy programs, tax initiatives and rebate incentives are given by government to promote the use of solar panels but we are still way behind in making full and efficient use of solar energy. Also, it might take up to 10 years to 15 years before you can break even with your initial investment. Its not about how much payback period is, anything that can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is worth trying. As new technologies emerge, the cost of solar panels is likely to decrease and then we can see an increase in the use of solar cells to generate electricity.

2. Location and Availability of Sunlight: The location of solar panels is of major importance for generation of electricity. Houses which are covered by trees and landscapes and surrounded by huge buildings may not be suitable enough for installing a solar energy system. Areas which remains mostly cloudy and foggy will produce electricity but at a reduced rate and may require more panels to generate enough electricity for your home. In countries like UK, where it remains cloudy most of the day, cloudy skies reduce its effectiveness.

During winters, solar collectors can not produce more energy than the home is using while during summers solar collectors can produce more energy than the home uses.

3. Pollution: Most of the photovoltaic panels are made up of silicon and other toxic metals like mercury, lead and cadmium. Pollution in the environment can also degrade the quality and efficiency of photovoltaic cells. New innovative technologies can overcome the worst of these effects.

4. Inefficiency: Since not all the light from the sun is absorbed by the solar panels therefore most solar panels have a 40% efficiency rate which means 60% of the sunlight gets wasted and is not harnessed. New emerging technologies however have increased the rate of efficiency of solar panels from 40 to 80% and on the downside have increased the cost of solar panels as well.

5. Reliability: Unlike other renewable energy sources which can also be operated during night, solar panels prove to be useless which means you have to depend on the local utility grid to draw power in the night or you can buy solar batteries to store excess power which you can later utilize in the night. Apart from that, storms or hurricanes also reduce your ability to draw power during those days.

6. Installation Area: For home users, a solar energy installation may not require huge space as it can be installed on rooftops that can produce sufficient energy but for big companies, a large area is required for the system to be efficient in providing electricity on a constant basis.

Above disadvantages makes it quite obvious that one has to shell out good amount of money to harness solar energy that is available free but before you reach any further conclusion lets go through the advantages of solar power which will make you think that it would be wise to make this investment once and then reap its benefits later.

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Intel Free Press


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.