Published on June 21st, 2019 | by Sponsored Content0
Solar Energy Is Almost Perfect: It Just Has a Few More Things to Improve
It’s easy to see why solar energy has been hyped as the ideal means of electricity generation, and the energy of the future. It relies on the ever-abundant energy provided by the sun (so it’s infinitely sustainable), it’s completely clean (with virtually no pollutant byproducts), and there aren’t secondary risks involved like there are with nuclear energy.
Until recently, the biggest problem with solar energy has been cost, but the average price per kilowatt-hour generated by solar energy has declined sharply over the past several years. Today, in most applications, solar energy is cheap even when compared to traditionally cost-efficient means of energy generation like fossil fuel burning.
As cost decreases, more consumers are hailing solar energy as the standard we should all be using, which is a good thing. Solar energy is on the verge of making all other forms of energy obsolete; once it solves the last few issues keeping it from advancing, there will be nothing to stand in its way.
Making Up for Inconsistent Sunlight Hours
Solar energy is fantastic, so long as you have sunlight to work with. Unfortunately, close to half of all daily hours are impossible for solar energy generation because the sun has already set. Even during daylight hours, cloudy conditions can obscure the sun and interfere with the consistency of your energy generation. You can calculate peak hours and install your panels with the perfect angle to try and compensate for this, but there’s no way to generate energy reliably with solar power on a full 24-hour cycle.
There may not be a way to force additional strong daylight hours, but other forms of technological advancement can make up for the difference (and currently are). Plus, there’s so much energy packed into the available daylight hours that it should hypothetically be more than enough to keep the grid powered.
Mastering the Art of Installation
Installing solar panels intimidates people, since it can get complicated, depending on your conditions. Overall costs have plummeted, but most solar panels are still challenging to be installed by the average homeowner on their own. Instead, they usually have to seek out a permit from their city or county, and shop around for a specialist installer. On top of that, you’ll need to consider the age, condition, and materials of the roof before installing; some conditions make it much more difficult to install a solar panel, and may inflate the price.
Fortunately, solar panels are getting easier and easier to install. Unique unfolding racks and thinner, more movable panels are making installation accessible to pretty much everyone.
Managing Small Spaces
Traditional photovoltaic panels require a ton of space. Even if an average household covers the entire roof with solar panels, it may not generate enough energy to compensate for the household’s electricity needs (depending on the household). Given a big enough open field, it’s possible to install an array of solar panels that generate ample electricity for many applications, but not many residential consumers or businesses have access to this kind of space.
Solar panel engineers are solving this problem by creating a wide range of different panels, so smaller and thinner panels are available for consumers with minimal space.
Improving Energy Storage
Solar technology has evolved considerably in the past decade or two, but one complementary technology has barely changed in the same time frame: batteries. The technology we use for storing energy is still less efficient than it could be. Because solar energy isn’t consistent, storage is the best long-term solution to ensure a consistent stream of electricity is provided to consumers.
Thankfully, researchers are working on new methods of long-term energy storage, which could greatly improve the potential of solar energy. All it would take is one major advancement in the field of battery storage to take solar energy from “great” to “nearly perfect” as a means of energy generation.
There are two important things to note here. First, these problems are tiny in comparison to the massive benefits provided by solar energy in the first place. Every form of electricity generation has inherent disadvantages, and the disadvantages of solar energy are laughably small when compared to other forms of energy generation.
Second, solar energy is constantly improving, with engineers finding new and inventive ways to make up for its inefficiencies. Just 20 years ago, solar energy was so expensive, many people didn’t believe it could be a long-term solution for the pollution and lack of sustainability from conventional forms of energy generation. Today, it’s ridiculously cheap by comparison, and it’s only going to get cheaper. Every inherent flaw with solar energy is actively being researched, and in some cases, is already in the process of being resolved.
This article is sponsored by GoingSolar