Solar energy usage in the United States is going to be 4 times bigger in the next 10 years. We already install around 20 GW of solar power every year and we’ll move to 80 GW annually by 2030. There must be a reason for this, right? Turns out that being renewable isn’t the only advantage that solar energy possesses. Let’s break down the pros and cons of solar energy together so that we can see why sun power is on such a rise.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Let’s start with what’s good about solar energy and what makes countries all over the world switch to it. Here the main pros of solar energy:
Solar is green energy
Solar energy is renewable: the sun doesn’t go over anywhere and probably won’t run out of sunlight in the next billion years or so. Yes, toxic elements get used during the manufacturing process, but the pollution produced by the solar industry is relatively tiny. That’s especially important in the face of upcoming climate change. UN scientists have already proven that human activities have greatly increased the level of greenhouse emissions on the planet and we must do everything in our power to slow down the warming of the planet. Solar energy is our ally in this fight.
Solar provides great return on investments
While being green, solar energy is also a great long-term investment. You can reduce your electricity bills substantially by going solar. On average, a home system brings in about $100 every month in the USA. Since bills have steadily increased over the course of the last few years, your savings with a PV system are only going to grow.
The average payback time for a PV system in the US is 7-8 years and can be as short as 5 years in some states if you take advantage of the incentives. Given the fact that the average lifespan of PV modules exceeds 25 years, we can confidently say that a PV system generally pays for itself 2-3 times during its lifetime.
Panel hardly need any maintenance
There is a reason why solar may become the primary energy source in space. They hardly need your care to work properly. Panels don’t depend on fuel, barely require any cleaning (maybe once a year), they are silent and don’t smell. You install them and they work — that’s just how simple it is. Solar panels are also durable and some of them are capable of withstanding tornadoes and hurricanes.
Panels increase home value
Finally, PV modules raise the cost of your house on the property market. It is also noted by experts that houses with PV systems are sold much faster. A part of it is the fact that solar modules generally look very cool on the roof and you get a chance to impress your neighbors by putting cutting-edge technology on your house.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Now let’s move onto the disadvantages and discover what’s bad about photovoltaics. Here the main cons of solar energy:
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Upfront costs can be high
A PV system can be quite costly — an average home installation can cost around $15,000—$20,000. The good news is that solar gets cheaper: panels have already lost 80% of their cost over the last 10 years. Besides there are lots of solar incentives that make a switch to solar easier — the primary being Solar Tax Credit (ITC). In 2021 it allows you to subtract 26% of the costs — panels plus labor, delivery, equipment — from your income taxes. In 2022 this incentive drops down to 22% for residential systems.
Panels depend on the weather
Unsurprisingly, panels need sunlight to work and their production drops on cloudy days. However, it’s not like they stop working altogether. As long as there is daylight, solar panels make use of diffuse radiation. Overall, clouds can decrease the performance of your array by up to 40%. However, engineers constantly improve and modernize panels and their performance in low-light conditions becomes stronger with every year. In the end, solar panels are a solid choice even in cloudy areas, especially if electricity prices there are high.
Panels need space
Well, solar panels need space — obviously. However, this problem applies primarily to ground-based installations. Most people don’t use their roofs for anything, so putting panels up there usually doesn’t get in the way or bother you. Building-integrated photovoltaics also become popular where solar elements are built into walls and roofs without taking space. Finally, panels become more and more efficient and you need less and less space to produce the needed amount of power.
You may face legal issues
When installing solar in the US, you may encounter difficulties with getting a permission for a PV system. It has to be well planned out, inspected, approved and all of it takes time and effort. However, it’s usually your installer who takes care of most of the paperwork and handles the approval process. He also should tell you all about incentives in your state that would allow you to save more on going solar.
As you can see, the advantages clearly outweigh the cons. It is only right that America switches to solar energy and joins the fight against global warming.