“Renewable energy” and “clean energy” are phrases that grow increasingly common and important in the modern era. In light of the growing threat of climate change, eco friendly alternatives to traditional energy sources are generally more appealing, but there can be some confusion regarding which of these clean, renewable sources of energy is best, or which is best for a given set of circumstances. Solar panels are the most popular choice for renewable energy, but how does it stack up to the competition? Here’s what you need to know in order to make an informed choice when upgrading to solar energy.
Solar Panels Are Becoming More Efficient
While it has long been a point against solar energy consumption, solar panel efficiency has improved greatly in the last decade. While solar energy overall remains less efficient than other forms of energy, both renewable and non renewable, efficiency increases as a result of better technology is closing that gap. Generally speaking, adopting eco friendly energy alternatives is a sacrifice in efficiency, because the technology still needs to develop further. However, the advancements made thus far show a clear trend of increasing efficiency. Wind and hydroelectric alternatives are significantly more efficient, but they each present problems that keep them from achieving wider usage.
Solar Panels Are Much More Affordable Than The Alternatives
Solar energy remains the most widespread clean energy source for a few reasons, but perhaps the most prominent reason is the cost. Solar panels have the lowest install cost of the renewable energy sources, and those costs can be further mitigated via loans specifically designed to promote the use of solar energy. Solar panels aren’t as cost effective as other options long term, however, but the upfront cost is as good as it gets. This is noteworthy, as the switch to renewable energy is always a good idea in the long term, but the initial cost can deter many with less disposable income. Therefore, this reduced initial price point makes solar panels more accessible to the masses. Turbines, on the other hand, are so massive in size that their cost is prohibitive. Meanwhile, hydroelectric systems require several individual parts and a more complex and costly installation process.
Solar Panels Are More Versatile Than Other Options
Another advantage of solar panels is that they tend to be easy to install and take up very little real estate when compared to wind turbines, for example. Wind turbines, as a descendant of windmills, are quite large. Therefore, they require a substantial allotment of space. Solar panels, on the other hand, come in a variety of sizes, allowing them to neatly fit into most private property and public space, alike. While it may take many more solar panels to rival the raw power output of turbines, there is simply much more room for them, given their size. Likewise, solar panels can absorb sunlight from almost any outdoor location, making them more widely applicable than hydroelectric power systems, which require a running body of water in order to produce power.
Solar Panels Are Inherently Limited
Solar panels are only able to draw energy from sunlight when the sun is shining. That means that solar power not only is inaccessible at night, but also is weakened on overly cloudy days. Wind Turbines, likewise, are ineffective on days with little to no wind. These two energy sources are often coupled by corporations and governments in order to maximize output, an option that isn’t really available to individuals in most cases. Hydroelectric generators provide a steady stream of electricity most of the time, which is its strongest feature.
Switching to a renewable power source is the responsible choice, but it can be intimidating. As stated above, renewable energy is cheaper over time than traditional fuel sources, and solar panels offer a much more affordable initial cost, which makes solar a clear choice for individuals, families, and small businesses. As technology improves, solar energy may become even cleaner and even more efficient, but it remains the best available option for widespread use today.
Publish Date: May 11, 2020 8:16 PM