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Last week, I read an interesting article about solar panels, which prompted me to do a bit of research. Here are my thoughts about it.
One article on solar panels stated that solar energy is not attractive only because of its high cost. So I did research about different incentives that individuals get to buy solar panels, but ?rst I’d like to start by explaining how photovoltaic cells work and then I’ll mention pros and cons of using solar panels.
To put it simply, solar panels are composed of solar cells, which, without being attached to any external voltage source, convert the energy of the sun into electricity by the photovoltaic effect. So basically the panel converts the particles of sunlight, called photons, into electrons of direct current ‘DC’ electricity. The electricity produced is then stored in the battery system. In order to use it in our homes, however, we need an inverter that will convert the direct current ‘DC’ into alternative current ‘AC’ of electricity, which is used in our houses.
image by alternative energy news
Advantages of solar
Now that we understand better how the solar cells work, let’s have a look at advantages of using solar energy.
First of all, solar energy is a renewable source of power. It can also harness power in remote locations, where it is dif?cult to construct power lines. This can be very helpful, especially when building new infrastructures in developing countries. Another advantage is that we can store the solar electricity using solar battery chargers. And ?nally, solar cells have the added advantage of being non-polluting and having a long lifespan.
After hearing all these positive points, one could ask “So why doesn´t everyone buy these solar panels? It could surely save a lot of energy and money!” Well… because it’s not so easy!
One of the main drawbacks is the initial cost of the investment used to harness the sun energy. And as the use of solar panels is not a commercial wave, let’s say, solar companies cannot take advantage of economies of scale, which explains the high cost of their panels. But it’s not all about money. There are also some external factors that play an important role. One example is pollution. Indeed, it can impair the ef?ciency of photovoltaic cells.
Another point to keep in mind is the important role of weather, which can be unpredictable. Solar energy is captured only when the sun is shining. This means that during the night and even during cold seasons, your panels would be pretty useless. Finally, the surrounding buildings or landscape can also affect the performance of solar panels.
There are interesting tax incentives, however, for the purchase of solar energy devices. For example, did you know that according to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, businesses can get tax credits for 30% of the cost of the solar system they buy in the US? For individuals, the maximum credit there is $2,000 for a photovoltaic system, which includes solar panels. Moreover, you should keep in mind the solar systems must meet some specific requirements.
Despite this revolutionary solution and its positive impact on environment, renewable energy isn’t a growth market. At least it hasn’t become one so far. Indeed, Germany, Europe’s biggest solar market, is reducing renewable energy incentives, and its developers are moving into emerging markets, especially in Asia.