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Solar Energy : Pros and Cons of The SunShine Alternative Fuel

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 9/16/2008

You have heard of calculators and watches being powered by the solar energy; You had heard about solar cookers and solar water heaters. Solar energy is also used to provide electricity in countries like Brazil, for instance. Does it hold promise for us as an alternative fuel? read on to know more.

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    One of the best known source of energy to mankind since the Stone Age has been the solar energy. Solar energy refers to utilizing the energy radiated from the sun. Abundantly available and the most renewable source of energy, solar energy has not been explored much as an alternative source of energy.

    The past generations have tried using glass and other materials and structures to capture and magnify the thermal energy and these systems have gradually evolved to form the basis of established systems that are used today to harness the sun’s energy.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of using thermal energy?


    • Available in abundance:

    Solar energy is available abundantly and thankfully, we are still not taxed for using it! All you need is a initial investment to install solar panels in your house. After the initial investment, using the solar energy is practically free. The recovery period for this small investment can be very short and depends on electricity consumed in your household.

    • Environmentally friendly:

    Solar energy is the most environmental friendly source of energy, like wind energy. It is renewable, easy to use and clean with no side effects unlike gas or coal. It is also sustainable over a long period of time. It does not contribute to global warming or cause pollution by releasing harmful gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or mercury into the atmosphere like many traditional forms of electrical generation does. It also does not contribute to smog or acid rains.

    On the other hand, it actively adds to decrease the harmful green house emissions.

    • Low on maintenance and Independent:

    Solar energy system is virtually maintenance free and with no recurring costs. Just install it once and enjoy it for decades! A solar energy system can operate independently making it more practical and cost-effective. It not just reduces your electricity bill, but will also continue to supply your home with electricity in the event of a power shortage or breakdown. It is also the most cost effective measure that can be adopted when power has to be given to remote locations, rather than drawing electricity from the near by town.

    Disadvantages of solar energy:

    • The main disadvantage of using solar energy is the initial investment which goes into the setting up of the solar system. The installation charges become expensive because of high cost of the semi-conducting materials that is used in building a solar system.

    • Solar panels require a large area for installation in order to achieve a good level of efficiency and constant supply of solar energy.

    • The efficiency of the solar system also relies on the location of the sun. Though this problem can be overcome with the installation of certain components, it would be an additional expenditure.

    • Production of solar energy is vastly influenced by 3 major conditions: The presence of clouds, pollution in the air and the absence of sun during night. Also the latter problem can be solved by using a back up battery, the presence of clouds and pollution still is a major hurdle.

    Solar energy has more advantages than disadvantages, and the disadvantages are manageable and can be easily overcome. Hence using solar energy as an alternative to other forms of depleting energy is a wise choice.