What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy?

In recent years, the twin threats of climate change and rising energy prices have put an increased focus on our energy usage & efficiency and carbon footprint.

Solar panels on a house.

With the world moving away from our reliance on fossil fuels, solar panels have been one of the solutions in the spotlight as a way of generating clean, renewable energy.

While they have many advantages, it is important to understand that solar panels are not for everyone and the choice over whether to install them will depend on your individual circumstances.

In this guide, we break down the key advantages & disadvantages of solar panel installation to help you assess if they are suitable for your needs.

What are solar panels?

Also known as photovoltaic panels, solar panels convert energy from the sun to help both domestic & business owners save on their energy costs. However, the cost of installation is high and it is therefore necessary to educate yourself on all the pros and cons, including weather dependency, aesthetics and life cycles.

Solar panels generate energy which can be stored in solar batteries, meaning that you can continue to keep using the power even once the sun has set. In the right circumstances, it can generate enough electricity to power your entire home, especially if your home has been made energy efficient. You can also use the energy to charge your hybrid or electric vehicle.

What are the advantages of solar energy?

Renewable Energy Source

By harnessing energy from the sun, solar panels are an environmentally friendly source of energy which is virtually limitless and renewable.

Power your home sustainably and help in the fight against climate change.

Reduced Electricity Bills

By tapping in to free energy from the sun, solar panels significantly reduce your annual electricity bill.

You can even earn money by selling excess energy back to the grid if you generate more power than you use.

If the cost of investment in solar panels is too high, then solar lights can be a cheaper option which helps provide some reduction to your energy bills.

Environmentally Friendly

Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is clean and produces no greenhouse gas emissions, reducing your carbon footprint. There is no environmental damage, unlike fossil fuels, associated with mining or drilling.

Solar energy also uses little to no water, unlike power plants which generate their electricity using steam turbines.

Low Running Costs

Although the initial install cost can be high, solar panels are cost-effective to run and require minimal maintenance.

Energy Independence

Solar energy helps you avoid the recent energy cost spikes caused by events in Russia and help give predictability over your bills.

You would also be protected against the blackouts that have been threatened in recent years as a result of energy shortages.

Tax Benefits & Incentives

As part of the push towards net zero, many governments are providing incentives, tax credits & rebates for installations of solar power.

Increased Property Value

As the benefits of solar energy become more well known, they can help boost the resale value of your home.

Remote Power Generation

Solar panels can provide electricity in remote or off-grid areas.

Easy to Install

A skilled contractor such as Wilson Electrical can often complete the install in around a day or so.

They are installed on your roof, but it is important to use a specialist because the positioning will directly impact how much energy you can expect to get from your panels.

They have an average lifespan of around 25 years, meaning you should get a good return on your initial investment.

Energy Storage Options

Excess energy generated above your usage can be stored via battery systems for usage during cloudy days, or at night, or can even be sold back to the grid, earning you money.

Job Creation

The solar industry has generated and will continue to generate significant employment opportunities.

With the 2050 net zero target, investment and employment in this area is only going to increase and is estimated to reach 22 million jobs worldwide in the photovoltaic sector alone by 2050.

Technological Versatility

Compared to a traditional fossil fuel system, solar energy creates very little noise and is non-disruptive to your home or business setting.

Green Life Cycle

Solar panels retain their environmental benefits even at the end of their lifespan, as they are easy to dismantle and the materials can often be recycled and reused.

What are the disadvantages of solar panels?

High Initial Costs

While the long term savings are significant, there is a high initial investment in the purchase and installation of the panels. These can often be offset by government grants, but availability will vary.

Weather Dependency

As the energy is derived from the sun, it is natural that the benefit of the solar panels will be higher in areas with higher levels of sunlight.

Solar panels are weather dependent and only produce power during daylight hours. However, contrary to common belief, cold does not impact productivity.

While cloudy days will, as it hides the sun, your solar panels can even generate energy in snowfall and can actually even be more efficient as the snow cleans the panels and increases the amount of light hitting your panels, which in turn increases electricity production.

Aesthetic Impact

One of the biggest common complaints about solar panels are people don’t like how they look on their roof, although increasingly these are being designed in a way to fit more naturally with the roof.

Space Requirements

The solar panels do take up a decent amount of space and are therefore not suitable for smaller roofs.

Efficiency Variability

The efficiency of the solar panels often decreases over time, meaning they produce less energy and they will eventually need to be replaced.

Installation Challenges

A detailed survey needs to be carried out before installation to assess the most efficient location.

Energy Storage Costs

Additional costs will be incurred for adding battery systems, which can often be expensive.

Orientation Matters

Not every type of roof will work with solar panels. If your roof faces away from the sun, you won’t be able to capture enough solar energy.

Therefore, it is important that you get a pre-installation survey from our expert installers to ensure that solar panels are right for you.

Wrapping up

While fossil fuels are a finite and limited resource, energy from the sun is always going to be a source of energy.

Although – as with everything – there are negatives to solar panels, the advantages of them by far outweigh those.

We are expert installers of solar panels in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayrshire and Central Scotland. Our team of friendly solar panel installers will do a site visit and help advise on the best solution for your unique home.