Sun is the most abundant, free and clean source of energy on Earth. To decrease dependence on fossil fuels, solar technology is rapidly gaining popularity all around the world. This nascent technology uses solar panels to tap solar energy and generate electricity. These panels are installed on the roof of residential complexes or commercial buildings. Solar power helps save on electricity bills and saves the environmental from the negative impacts of fossil fuel consumption. Moreover, solar technology produces no pollution. However, every new technology systems come with new hurdles. Same is the case with solar panels. Research is still being carried out to improve current solar panels. In the midst of all advantages, there are some disadvantages to solar panels.
The photovoltaic (PV) panels needed for producing electricity are made from semiconductors that are extremely expensive. Number of PV panels installed on the rooftop depends upon the regular intensity of sunlight. In general, $7 to 10/sqft is invested to install solar panels. Hence, a home installation costs around $20,000. This means one household has to shell out 30 cents/KW every hour. This cost is quite high compared to the thermal electricity where a household pays about 9.5 cent/KW every hour. Solar electricity costs three times more than regular electricity which many consumers are not ready to shell out yet for the sake of environment. This is one of the major disadvantages of solar panels that has been a mjor factor in the acceptance of solar power resource. This could change as installation costs are coming down and both federal and state governments are giving tax rebates to offset the cost of solar panel installations.
Location and climatic conditions affect the efficiency of solar panels. In humid climates, the life expectancy of solar panels is reduced due to corrosiong and has to be replaced. In regions with fewer months of sunshine, the efficiency of solar panels is not at their peak. Hence places with seasonal variations or with shorter days and longer nights have little scope for efficient solar energy production. In many areas like Norway, where the sun remains on the horizon for 24 hours, solar panels are incapable of producing reasonable amounts of power. But this could change with innovative technolgoies which are trying to use low sunlight conditions to generate power which seems not too distant and can help these places use solar energy more efficiently.
Green technology scientists are experimenting with the concept of solar power towers. If the concept becomes successful, solar power towers would act as the existing electricity generating plants. These solar towers can be centralized and supply energy to the surrounding areas. Technological innovations to reduce the size of solar panels will help the size problem. There definitely has been an evolution in the solar panels which is why we are seeing more compact and efficient solar paenls due to the blending of technologies. Germany has introduced photovoltaic solar panels that can absorb and produce energy even when the sky is cloudy. Advanced solar panels and batteries are being developed that are 98% recyclable. Since the point of developing Solar energy is to reduce pollution in the future, many evolving technologies are tryting to make solar energy an eco-friendly source and hence more stress is being laid on producing ecofriendly technologies to make photovoltaic cells.
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