The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy Explained

Ian Lewis[1]

Ian Lewis

Money Savings Advice Advantages & disadvantages of solar energy

Solar energy is renewable, and something you can generate at home. You can’t generate solar energy all the time, though. Cloudy days limit energy generation, and you can’t make power at night. A solar storage battery can help.

In ever-increasing numbers, UK homes are being built with solar panels on the roof. Older homes are having solar panels fitted, and larger solar farms (also known as solar parks or photovoltaic power stations) are being built to harness the sun’s power.

Solar energy has many benefits, but also comes with disadvantages. Read on to find out more about solar energy, including when it’s effective and when it isn’t.

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Where Solar Panels Are Used

Solar panels can be used to generate electricity in almost all locations. Solar farms produce large amounts of power, though an increasing number of homeowners are getting solar panels for their house.

With solar panels at home, you can generate your own power. There are several advantages to doing this, but also some drawbacks to consider.

In the UK, solar energy makes up around 2.5% of all electricity generated. This might seem like a small percentage, but it is a solid part of the push to move to renewable energy sources, and the government has stated that solar will continue to be a large part of the plans to convert the UK’s energy production industries onto more eco-friendly options by 2050.

Before you arrange solar panel installation, planning to get rich by harnessing the power of the sun, it’s worth making sure that you fully understand what you’re about to get into. Solar power may help you to save money and might make you more eco-friendly, though it isn’t the most reliable source and can be quite expensive to install.

Check that your house is a suitable property, and make sure to check if you need planning permission before the solar panels are installed.

With several good reasons to get solar panels, and several things you’ll want to consider, it’s important to make sure that you’re clued up before investing – otherwise, you might regret making a decision without knowing the full costs involved.

Advantages of Solar Energy

Solar energy is entirely renewable. The power comes straight from the sun, so it won’t go anywhere in the near future. Assuming that you don’t live in the Arctic Circle, you will have access to the sun’s rays every day. Some days are better than others, though you’ll almost always find that there’s some sunshine to help you to generate power. Solar panels soak up the sunlight, converting it to usable energy.

Being renewable, solar power’s less harmful to the environment. Though photovoltaic equipment needs to be made and maintained, as long as it’s in place, it will keep creating new energy. Nobody needs to dig, mine or burn fossil fuels for electricity. For the most part, solar panels will work on their own. Looking after solar panels takes very little effort, and parts don’t need replacing very often.

Maintaining Solar Panels

Maintaining solar panels is usually as simple as occasionally cleaning them. Solar panel cleaning is relatively cheap and keeps the panels working as they should. You should only need to clean solar panels twice a year, which means they are low maintenance.

Solar panels can be placed almost anywhere. Though large solar parks generate large amounts of power, any homeowner can have solar panels installed within the boundaries of their property. Solar panels on top of a house might even produce more energy than that house needs.

If you’re a homeowner, solar power could reduce your energy bills. You can use solar energy to generate the power that you’ll need to run your home appliances. If you make more than you need, you can even sell the excess to the National Grid and make a bit of extra cash.

Where properties aren’t connected to the National Grid, solar power remains a valid option. You don’t need to be connected to the National Grid to generate or use, solar power. Even in the middle of nowhere, solar energy will always be available.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Though it’s renewable, solar energy isn’t constantly available. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work best when the sunlight is bright. On overcast days, they’ll generate less power. At night, they’ll do nothing at all. Solar panels work best in locations with long hours and bright sunshine and are less effective in darker locations where the days are relatively short.

In the UK, homeowners in Cornwall will generate more renewable energy than their relatives living in Scotland.

Solar panels also require a significant initial investment. You can buy energy straight from the National Grid through any electricity provider, so solar panels for houses are a non-essential purchase that you might not feel ready to make.

Solar Panels Installation

You’ll need to pay quite a lot of money to get solar panels installed, and only then will you start to make savings and slowly get your money back. Despite this, solar panels are now far cheaper than they were 20 years ago. In fact, you can install solar panels for around £6,000.

Generating solar power requires a lot of space. Most people are restricted to only putting solar panels on the roof of their house. It’s likely that your roof doesn’t have enough space for as many solar panels as you’ll need. In many cases, people use solar panels to reduce their energy bills. You may not be able to generate all the electricity you’ll need. So, you may have to settle for producing just a portion of the amount you use each year.

Installation doesn’t always go to plan. You’ll need to install panels on a south-facing roof, and not in an area that’s shaded. Large trees that cast shadows, or awkward roof angles, can mean that solar panels won’t work.

Making Solar Energy Better

There are ways to get around some of the disadvantages of solar power. One option is to install something called a solar plus battery. With a battery for storage, you can save any power that you don’t need straight away.

Power stored within your battery can be accessed later, whether you’re running low through darker winter days or need a lot more power through the night. For homeowners with limited space for solar panels, a battery provides a way to stockpile energy before selling excess to the National Grid.

Batteries currently available for storage at home have some smart capability. Not only will they store the power you generate at home, but they can also buy energy from the National Grid whilst it’s cheaper overnight. Then, they’ll store that energy so that it can be used throughout the day.

Solar Power and the Environment

One of the advantages of solar power is that it’s relatively clean. Nothing harmful comes from collecting the sun’s rays and using them to power your home. That said, the initial installation isn’t all that great for the environment.

Greenhouses gases are released during the production, and installation, of some solar panels, batteries and inverters. Solar energy isn’t ideal for the environment but is still significantly better than some other sources of energy.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With Solar Energy?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Solar Energy companies. They have already helped thousands of people get the best Solar Panels & Solar Energy solutions for their homes and they can do the same for you.

Choosing an independent Solar management company means they won’t proceed with a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.

If you would like to speak to one of these Solar Energy companies who can help you, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.

Money Savings Advice Author Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis is one of our specialist financial writers. Ian has over 15 years of financial writing experience, having worked for some of the largest financial publications in the UK covering topics from mortgages, equity release, loans and financial claims, to name a few.

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