The Ongoing Debate

About the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy

In the 21st century, it seems as though we are looking for ways to keep our quality of life while using as little fossil fuels as possible.  While we certainly are there yet, it is an ongoing process that definitely involves photovoltaic power or solar energy. There are numerous advantages to using solar energy; however there are also some negative aspects associated with solar energy. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.

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The Advantages of Solar Energy

Environmentally Friendly and Reduced Pollution

Using so-called “green energy” is certainly environmentally friendly. Solar energy products such as wind turbines are much safer than using fossil fuels.  Fossil fuel catastrophes such as the BP oil spill in 2010 have shown us how much safer overall using solar energy is. If a wind turbine or solar cell breaks down, then no environmental damage is done. If an off shore oil rig fails it can lead to 53,000 barrels of oil pouring into the ocean, killing off aquatic life, birds, and the fishing industry that so many people rely on for a living. The BP oil spill leaked an estimated 53,000 barrels of oil daily into the ocean for an extended period before they were finally able to cap the source of the oil spill.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of solar energy; however the heavy damage that occurs to Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar EnergyCredit: environment when there is an oil spill such as the Valdez oil leak in Alaska indicate why it is in everybody’s best interest to help move our world to relying more on solar energy and reduce as much as possible our need for using fossil based fuels such as oil.

Lower Oil Prices

Another major benefit of using more solar energy is that it will lead to a decrease in oil prices. As more cars and homes begin to use solar energy the demand for oil will drop. With a reduced demand for oil the cost will be less. Factories will still need to use fossil fuels, but the price they pay for it will be less since the demand will have decreased. Factories can then generate more profits, even though they still rely on fossil fuels.

Increased Energy Security

With solar energy we are much more secure. In 1973 the U.S. experiences an oil crisis when OAPEC placed an oil embargo on the Untied States. The availability of fuel dropped drastically and was very scarce. People had trouble getting fuel for their cars and, when a gas station did have fuel available, the line to get gas was so long it took many people hours of waiting for their turn to get some gas. The price was also increased and not steady. By relying on fossil fuels we are at the mercy of the countries we get the vast majority of our oil from. If they get mad at a country or don’t like their policies they can cut entire countries off from receiving the oil they need. The economic security of our country can be much more stable if we do not have to rely on foreign oil.

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Enhanced Sustainability

We can protect our environment significantly when our civilization begins to use solar energy for the vast majority of all the energy needs. We can drill more in Alaska and other oil ripe regions is the U.S.; however there is always the constant threat of an oil leakage permanently damaging to the tundra, wildlife, and habitat. With solar energy we reduce this habitat threat to practically zero.

Save Money on Your Power Bill

You monthly electricity bill will be reduced by using solar energy. Many people are actually able to “sell back” their unused energy that their solar panel system produces to the power company who then uses the excess power to sell to their “grid customers”. With a good installation your solar energy set-up can allow you to have no monthly power bill at all and, in some cases, you may even be able to get a cash payment for your excess energy you produce. Instead of a monthly power bill you could get a monthly power payment!

The Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Most scientists will not dispute that solar energies are beneficial for our planet however, as with all solar technologies being produced today, there are still a few disadvantages of using solar energy.  While there are other disadvantages of solar energy such as the general public's reliance on the mainstream grid as a power source and the problems of fraud in the sales and installation of solar systems, the main disadvantage is connected to the cost of home solar power systems.


Solar energy can be very expensive to install and it could take a long time until your savings from using it is big enough to pay off your initial investment in a solar energy set-up.

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Solar hot water systems are not as efficient as a traditional water heater powered by electricity or fuel oil.

Solar energy is not suitable for large factories. Although factories can use many solar energy devices to help save money, they will still need to use fossil fuels. Solar energy can help cut down on the factory reliance of fossil fuels and electricity from the power grid, yet technology has not advanced to the stage where factories can run independently off the mainstream power grid.

The factories that make photovoltaic cells and other solar energy technologies use a tremendous amount of energy from the grid each month. A solar panel factory in Pocatello, Idaho has a power bill from Idaho Power each month for around $800,000. This is after they negotiated a discount from Idaho Power. Before they negotiated the discount, they were paying around $2 million each month for their monthly electricity power bill.

As the solar industry continues to adapt new technologies that improve efficiency as well as reducing the overall costs of a solar energy package for homes, the debate on the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy will continue and, quite possibly, evolve.


Suggested Reading:

The Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Non Renewable Energy Sources: Fossil Fuels and Their Effects

Alternative Energy Systems: Powering the Future