Solar power is one of the more readily accessible renewable energy sources which simply require light from the sun to create electricity to power your home. Over the years there have been a number of false dawns but there is no doubt that the solar technology industry of today is more developed, more efficient and more cost-effective. Solar power will always have its critics suggesting this some kind of fashionable fad when in reality it has been round us in many forms for many years and is now an integral part of the renewable energy industry.
It is a common misconception that solar panels need light and heat to work when in reality they only need light. This does to a certain extent restrict the hours in which solar panels will create power although there is an ability to store power created in the daylight for use at night time within a combined renewable energy structure. The fact that the conversion of light into electricity is powered by the sun means it is one of the cleanest forms of energy available today. Fossil fuels will at some point run dry but the sun is expected to last for at least another 7.5 billion years.
Aside from the environmental benefits of using solar power there are obviously significant financial benefits. Data from the National Grid suggest that the average UK household could save in the region of £125 a year on energy bills based upon a 3.5 kW system and a standard family home. As solar technology becomes more efficient we will likely see recent advances continue which will only increase cost savings for the average family. There are also other money making and money-saving options available with solar power which will cover below.
Selling back to the National Grid
In years gone by the opportunity to sell electricity created by solar technology back to the National Grid was seen as a pipedream. This pipedream is now a reality and many homes across the UK are earning additional income by selling excess electricity back to the National Grid which is created during peak times. These rerouting systems are automatic and when you bear in mind the challenges to the current UK power station network, the National Grid will take as much electricity from renewable sources as it can.
While the cost of installing a solar panel system can be relatively expensive, governments around the world are offering an array of tax incentives so that they can meet their future mission reduction targets. The UK government has a legally binding agreement to reduce emissions by 80% (using 1990 as the base value) by 2050. Therefore, the use of taxpayer’s money to incentivise households to utilise solar power technology in the future will help meet this target and also help to address forecast power supply issues in the future.
The average solar panel comes with a 20 to 25 year warranty although this does not include the inverter system which actually converts light into electricity. This may need replaced on a more regular basis, say between every five and 10 years, but it more than pays for itself with the constant creation of clean energy. As far as the panels themselves go, a quick wipe a couple of times here is all they need to ensure maximum efficiency. By the time a solar panel system installed today needs replaced the new technology will likely be more efficient and cheaper. A win win for consumers, politicians, the environment and the renewable energy sector.
Downsides to solar power
There are very few major downsides to solar power especially when compared to the efficiency and the cost of traditional power creation systems today.
For many people it is the initial cost of installing a solar power system which makes them think twice about this clean energy form. Only recently IKEA introduced its own cost-effective solar power system for customers, available for just £5700. There is an array of tax incentives available to those looking to utilise clean energy with governments around the world determined to push the benefits of renewable energy. Even in a worst-case scenario, with no tax incentives, a solar power system will more than pay for itself in the longer term with an average 20 year cycle saving the average household in excess of £15,000 (including cost savings and the sale of excess energy).
The impact that solar panels may or may not have on the value of your home is an extremely hot topic. Supporters of the industry suggest that solar panels will actually add to the value of your property because buyers will be able to reduce their energy bills. Critics suggest a can be an expensive eye sore although this stereotypical view may be based upon older more cumbersome and inefficient solar technology.
It is very difficult discount the long-term benefits of solar power which is one of cleanest forms of renewable energy available today. There are obviously some pros and cons surrounding this technology but on the whole it pays to itself in the longer term, reduces average household energy bills and offers a sharp reduction in harmful emissions. While the climate change should not necessarily dictate the type of energy we create in use in the future, where solar power is involved it is a win-win for all parties.