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Published on October 12th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans

What are the Disadvantages of Solar Power?

The major disadvantage of solar power or solar energy is the cost of
the photovoltaic panels.  The location of your home in relation to
sunlight, how many hours per day of sun you receive, and the amount of
energy you use monthly determines the size of the photovoltaic panels.
Estimates range between $7–10 per square foot for photovoltaic panels.

The average price for a home is typically around $20,000 and can be
much higher. Ahead-of-the-curve companies are starting to provide more
reasonably priced options, as they see the value in making solar home
energy affordable and available to wide range of the public.
Local and state governments are working hard to help offset high costs with subsidies, tax breaks, and tax credits.  However, the average cost remains relatively high—a home with solar panels is going to pay around 30 cents per Kilowatt hour after you factor in the cost of the solar panels, compared to a home on the electrical grid that pays around 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour.  As you can see, photovoltaic panels cost three times as much per kilowatt hour.

Another disadvantage of solar power is the fact we do not have the technology to use solar panels effectively in places without ample sunshine.  Most of us don’t live in sunny places like Florida, Hawaii, or portions of California.  The majority of people live in areas that are seasonal and when daylight hours are shorter, the amount of energy solar power panels can produce is limited or nonexistent.  Without the sun, solar panels are useless because there is no “solar power.”

There are ideas floating around about building solar power towers.  These solar power towers would work much in the same way our current electricity producing plants work today.  They would be in a centralized locale and provide energy to the surrounding area.  Unfortunately, the idea is still in its early stages and the projected cost is extremely high.

Although the disadvantages of solar energy are undeniable at this point, there is ample reason to have hope for the future.  The interest in alternative energy and specifically solar energy is growing, and as more people demand this technology, the more that funding and research will increase.

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16 Responses to What are the Disadvantages of Solar Power?

  1. Guest says:

    you dont really list a lot of disadvantages tou just list cost and that is pretty much it and i am sure there are way more disadvantages!

  2. Editors says:

    Eds: New items added — thanks for the comment.

  3. Guest says:

    The one disadvantage that is not fully understood (and often forgotten), is what will happen when solar panels need to be replaced due to “wearing out”. There is not yet a definitive expectation for the useful lifespan of a solar panel, but when they are no longer able to produce energy, how will we discard them? They are made of some seriously heavy metals, which would be extremely pollutant to landfills, etc. This issue obviously is not as contentious as nuclear power waste, but it should be a consideration when making the decision to begin using solar panels.

  4. Guest says:

    I actually never considered that disadvantage. I suppose people would do with it whatever they do with other things that wear out, like broken TVs and dysfunctional radios. Probably reuse some of the parts and the rest would end up in the dump. That’s something to consider. Perhaps someone will come up with a way to recycle the material.

  5. Guest says:

    I think the advantages certainly outrun the disadvantages and once technology goes even further the disadvantages will be easier to combat

  6. Yellowbird says:

    So does the 30 cents/KWH include installation, financial, what else? How long are you figuring this for? Doesn’t the value of the home go up, usually? Isn’t it pretty much “free” once it’s paid for? What does the $20,000 include (installation, batteries, electrician, maintenance, etc.)? Is the home insurance more or less? Does this harm appliances? Is this for rooftop arrays or ground?

  7. Susan Kraemer says:

    Solar lasts 40 to 50 years, so it is hardly a huge landfill problem. Yes, it loses a little in efficiency – all solar panels lose about 0.05% a year, but that means it is operating at 80% efficiency in 40 years. You won’t be putting it on craigslist in 10 years like the car you paid $20,000 for.

    Jennifer, you are absolutely wrong about the cost being more than grid power. It completely depends on your state, and electricity costs there.

    I think you are calculating this based on your own early adoption of off-grid solar, when costs may have been far higher.

    But I sell solar now, and do these calculations every day, and it is MUCH cheaper than PG&E over the 25 year life of a loan for $20,000. At a mininum, if your electricity costs only $60 you will save $75,000 of those hard to come by old lady dollars.

    If you figure that for that $20,000 you are getting at least 40 years of power, that averages $500 a year. Or $50 a month. $50 a month may be comparable to some states electricity now, but rates in CA where we live for example have historically been going up 6.7% a year, so the savings after about ten years mount up into the $100,000 or more.

    So when you are a little old lady and your neighbor can’t afford the skyhigh electricity costs, she will be coming over to your house to watch tv with you..

  8. Sorry woops – because my buddy Jennifer who lives offgrid sent me some stories she wrote here, I assumed this was her story. See now it’s not.

  9. Solar energy says:

    One obvious disadvantage of solar power panels is its initial cost is very high, this factor discourage solar electric system to spread widely and rapidly through out the world.

  10. ajkj says:

    this helped me with my debate

  11. jojo says:

    well many more disadvantages occur when they are trying to come up with an all green theory:

    1. Solar cell/panels etc. can be very expensive

    2. Solar power cannot be created at night

  12. Ray Boreham says:

    Interesting post, but I think you do PV panels a bit of a disservice by saying they’re pretty much useless in areas with limited amounts of sunlight. While the amount of electricity produced may be less, it can still be worthwhile, especially in areas where utility costs are prohibitively high. As proof of the viability of solar panels even in regions with limited sunlight, the country with the most installed solar energy systems is Germany, hardly a country known for its sunny disposition!

  13. Milo says:

    There is a HUGE flaw with solar power and that is the need for sunlight. If you have ever watched Discovery Channel you will have seen the effect of even a small meteor strike, massive volcano etc. The sun will be blotted out for years and if the fossil fuel infrastructure is gone then so is humanity. We won’t be able to keep warm in a now freezing world and worst yet not able to generate enough power to light fields to grow crops. Mass starvation!! And according to science it’s when, not if.

  14. milo is crazy says:

    milo….one there has not been major eruption in quite some time 2. last major eruption made around global decrease in temp. at 1 degree i think

    3. small meteor strike? improbable at best we have thing named nukes dozens of em if metoer came we just blow it up

    morons these days….

  15. jb says:

    In California, if there is a power outage, the Solar Panels cannot be used to power your home.That, to me is crazy.

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