The Five Disadvantages of Solar Power Again

Does Solar Power Have Disadvantages? How Can Anyone Say This About Renewable Energy?

Posted by Tom Delconte on www.homeenergypros.lbl.gov

Comments by Don Ames, www.detectenergy.com

Tom posted the 5 "disadvantages" listed below. I did not agree with the list so I thought I would post them as Tom did and then add my comments below each one. Be sure and join the discussion by posting your own ideas in the comment section below.

And by the way, thanks Tom, this looks like fun.

1. It's intermittent. Solar energy is only available when the sun is shining.

This is partially true. Some solar energy passes through the clouds. Solar panels produce some electricity even on very cloudy days. Intermittent is what powers net-zero homes. In the winter, the solar collectors capture less energy than the home is using. In the summer, the solar collectors can produce more energy than the home uses. At the end of a year, the home produces as much energy as it uses. Net-zero is good.

Batteries store solar power. Charge up the batteries on the sunny days and use that stored energy when the sun is hard to find. Many of the urban folks that are living without the grid, cloudy days and batteries get the job done.


Tom is right, solar energy is reduced when the sun is behind a cloud or on the other side of the world. But, I hesitate to call this a disadvantage that diminishes the importance and significance of solar energy.

2. It's low efficiency. It requires large areas of land.

No it doesn't, all it takes is the roof of the house you already have covering up a bit of land. Come to think of it, the garage roof and the patio roof and the pergola roof are all sitting there hoping to be used for something other than contaminating our lakes and streams with washed off asphalt.

Here's a good idea, cover all the asphalt roofs with solar panels so we don't have to replace those wonderful asphalt roofs so often. Anything with the word asphalt in it is not good.

It is true that if we put large solar arrays across the ground they would cover large areas of land. So far, with the larger ground mounted arrays I am familiar with, they are on ground not much good for anything else anyway. Like the one in the buffer strip of the freeway.

Considering just efficiency, without the land part, solar collectors are not the most efficient things in the world. Most solar panels are considered to be about 15% efficient. But, this is getting better all the time. Some panels have achieved over 20% efficiency.

To cheer me up after thinking about the low efficiency, I just think about that 600 horsepower diesel engine blowing black smoke as it pulls another load of coal out of the ground.


3. It's not completely free of environmental impact. Ultrapure polysilicon is now scarce.

So we will focus mirrors on a tower of water and let the solar energy run a steam engine. If polysilicon is a problem, focus the sun on plan "B".

I wonder which scarce product we should rightfully pursue more of - polysilicon of crude oil? I believe I have heard that we are about to manufacture our own polysilicon, grow it, like we will someday be able to grow a new arm or eyeball.

I actually enjoy the results when something gets scarce. Oil gets scarce and an electric or hybrid car can be found in just about any parking lot in town.

Environmental impact - long live Ultrapure Polysilicon and down with coal, oil, hydro, and uranium.


4. It's high cost.

Payback periods in dollars and cents range from about 15 years to 25 years. With recent incentives and tax credits, out-of-pocket on a $18,000 array could be as low as $6,000.

Fortunately, renewable energy is not a dollars and cents business. Anything that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and uranium is priceless. How much are you willing to pay for solar power? How much are you willing to pay for clean water and fresh air?

Here's an idea, take everybody's tax refund and put it in an account reserved for renewable energy. Couple years down the road, America has a whole bunch of clean energy. Households all over the place have an investment in lower electric bills.

Oh, ya, American made panels only! Wow, just think of the jobs!


5. You must climb your roof to wash it off. Just ask Ed Begley, Jr.!

In the rain forest of the Northwest, the average day keeps the solar panels clean without getting up on the roof. Recommended cleaning frequency - once a year - that's not too bad. In the interest of clean energy, let's not let getting up on the roof once-a-year, or Ed Begley be a deterrent.

Got a bad roof for climbing around on, here's a few ideas:

1. Put the solar panels on the ground, porch, garage, dog house, etc.

2. Put the solar panels on the neighbors house or in the neighbors yard.

3. Put the solar panels on open ground on the edge of town by investing in the community solar farm.

4. Have all the people on your street get-to-together and rent a high-lift platform and wash all the solar panels on the street or community in one day. Community picnic to follow.

5. Hire the neighborhood, out-of-work, out-of-school, teenager to get up on the roof.

6. Get a building contractor to construct a opening in the roof just above the solar panels. Go up through the attic, stand in the new opening and clean the panels. Hose and long handled, soft broom needed.

7. Don't wash the panels. The heck with Begley. Just how dirty can a solar panel get while sitting on a roof 40 feet off the ground? No dusty roads around, right! The panels will still be making clean energy even if you don't manage to clean them.

There you have it - my response to Tom's five things that are disadvantages of solar Power. I bet Ol' Tom was just kidding, he just wanted to get people like me stirred up a little. After all, the more we think and learn about Solar Power, the better it gets. Net-zero is good, one of my goals, and solar power will play a prominent role.

Thank you for stopping bye Detect Energy, hope you will come back soon, but I won't leave the light on for you...

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Tags: energy, exposure, panel, panels, pergola, power, solar, sun

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