The best things about solar energy is that it is going to exist as long as people will be on this earth, and using this energy doesn’t cause pollution. FUEL SOURCE -Solar energy is a renewable source. This means that it
is always going to be available with no worries of ever running out. Sunlight is present over an extremely large area. Actually the daily energy that we get from the sun is about 600 times greater per day than all other sources that generate electricity combined.
The downside of solar energy is that there is a lot of time when the sun doesn’t shine, and the solar collectors can’t be used in the dark. Also to capture light and make generating this power worth our time we need to collect this light over many hours and many meters of land. Even then the solar power generated isn’t enough to replace the use of fossil fuels entirely, but it is a help.
When in use the solar power systems give off no pollution of any kind, do not damage the earth’s surface in any way, and no noise is heard.
On the other hand solar generating systems can only be looked at as totally pollution free if we ignore the actions of building the systems, storing the electricity, and transporting this stored energy from place to place. Also the systems have to be torn apart, scrapped and replaced every few years. All of these things do lead to some pollution. However solar hot water systems reduce the need for electricity and therefore the need to use fossil fuels. For example, using a normal 2.5 KW household system that takes up 400 sq. ft. of roof space saves as much CO2 of a normal car that is driven for a year.
The cost of the fuel source is nothing, because sunlight is free. But the actual manufacturing of the solar panels (PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS), maintenance, and other components of the systems are all very expensive.
Energy collected from these cells has to be stored in expensive batteries, solar collectors also need tracking devices which add more to the cost. Next, the silicon used to make these cells is not in large supply, which makes it very expensive. Once running, the systems must be maintained and cleaned all the time. While running it will cost roughly 12 cents per KWh, and each panel produces 30W per square meter.
As of right now, solar power systems are very expensive with a low efficiency.
Light is way more useful when changed to an electric current using (PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS), which as just stated have very low efficiency. The current top efficiency is just under 25%. Factors that have negative effects on the performance of these collector panels are dust, smoke, weather, and darkness.
An example of how much space these collectors have to take up to be worth while is, for generating enough electricity for a city the size of Toronto, panels would have to fill an area the size of 1/5 of Prince Edward Island.
Many studies are currently taking place to raise the efficiency of this method of generating power, and the prices of systems are actually lowering. But I wouldn’t recommend using solar power as a sole means of generating power, however used along with other methods, it will make a big difference in lowering pollution.