What are the disadvantages of solar power?
Solar power has few disadvantages. It offers the promise of free, clean, reliable energy, as well as a slew of other advantages on a larger social and economic scale. However, solar power is not perfect.
We can rely on the sun rising every morning, and we even know its whereabouts in the sky, but as surely as it rises, it must go down. Therefore, solar panels can only collect solar electricity about half the time. Given our relatively poor ability to store electricity at this time, this intermittency is a disadvantage. Grid-tied systems are a happy compromise and largely mitigate this problem for home solar power systems.
High up-front costs are another disadvantage for solar power. Federal, state, local and/or utility rebates and incentives are very generous right now, which makes home solar power very affordable in terms of end costs. But up front, homeowners must still come up with several thousand dollars and then wait for tax credits to come through. There are loans and lease options available to cover these costs, and costs are continually dropping as supply increases and technology improves.
For many newer solar power technologies, degradation of solar cell materials is another disadvantage. While current solar panels on the market will last 25-30 years and longer at reasonable efficiencies, they also cost a lot. The quest for high-efficiency low-cost solar panels is continually hindered by degradation. But once again, technology is improving so fast that today's major obstacle will likely be tomorrow's minor inconvenience.
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