Problems faced by Solar Power

Solar power, or the ability to generate energy using sunlight has been a novel concept for much of history and the technology exists today in usable form and is improving continually. However, there is no mass adoption of solar in the world, even facing a climate crisis demanding that we switch to more sustainable energy sources. For all its merits, solar power is still a new technology and has several years of research ahead of it before it becomes viable for every use case. Moreover, public opinion is continually swayed by organisations with interest in staving off the coming shift away from fossil fuels in order to protect their investments. There are several issues with solar power that make it less suitable for specific uses or not viable as a sole power source as discussed further in this article.

Efficiency

It is cheaper to save energy than to produce more of it. Efficiency refers to the ease and cost of generating a unit of power and is one of the dimensions at which solar falls short. Although the Sun emits enough energy to power the entire world several times over in a short time, solar panels are able to capture very little of it, due to the limited surface area. Of the captured light, less than 50% (more typically 20%) is converted to useful energy – although this number is increasing rapidly with new developments in the field. While solar may suffice for general residential use, such as through a 10kW solar panel system, for industrial and prolonged residential use, the energy produced may be insufficient without substantial investment, which makes it impractical for many users.

Reliability

Solar power requires the presence of the Sun to generate electricity. This makes constant availability of electricity a problem for regions where the Sun does not shine for weeks on end due to weather conditions or seasonal fluctuations. The solution to this is energy storage by means of batteries, which are still relatively expensive and only offer a limited solution, as batteries are unable to store large amounts of power.

Politics

One of the biggest hindrances to solar power is the lack of interest and willingness among the populace to consider that solar is a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This is compounded by the fact that fossil fuel companies constantly undermining political movements to increase awareness of solar power and the technological and financial details. Fossil fuels are heavily subsidised by many states which give it the illusion of being a much cheaper power source than it is. This makes solar power appear expensive by comparison with most of the cost being borne by the end-user making them reluctant to invest in solar power.

Although solar power has a long way to go to be a reliable replacement for fossil fuels, it should not be discounted as a contender for the renewable energy race along with other sources such as nuclear and wind, the former of which garners even more stigma despite being the most viable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *