Solar Energy means energy that comes from the Sun in the form of Solar Radiation. This energy can be harnessed by man in a number of ways such as Solar Panels, Solar Water Heaters and even Solar Power Stations. But why should we? And what are the problems with doing so?
The Up Side.
The Sun and therefore Solar Energy, is a renewable energy source. What this means is that once a Solar Power System is in place it will not require any more resources to run unlike fossil fuel (Coal and Gas etc.) power stations that need a constant supply of the fuel to generate power. Not only is this better for the environment but it could help reduce national dependency on fossil fuels and fossil fuel producing nations.
Green and Clean.
Solar Panels and other Solar Energy Systems produce no pollution of any kind, not even noise pollution. It could be said that the only pollution that comes from Solar Power is in the manufacture of the equipment and any caused by the transport and installation of the system.
Solar Panels are perfectly fine installed on rooftops so there is no difficulty finding space for them. Also Solar Energy Systems can be completely remote. This means that there would be no need for a national grid, pylons or cables so they are perfect for isolated areas where the laying of power lines would be too costly or difficult. A lot of the technologies used in Solar Panels were refined for Satellites in space which is pretty remote.
After the initial costs Solar Energy is virtually free having no running costs and only having maintenance costs to pay.
The Down Side.
Inconsistent. It may seem obvious but true that Solar Energy Systems can only generate power during the day so some form of storage system is required to, hopefully, convert enough power to maintain a supply overnight. Weather conditions can also hinder the effectiveness of Solar Energy Systems as well as the time of year, climate and even existing air pollution (particularly in major cities). These will all have a negative effect on the amount of power that can be generated.
The initial set up costs for any Solar Energy System are relatively high when compared to other non-renewable energy sources. While the prices of fossil fuels are still relatively low Solar Energy will be an expensive proposition to begin with. This is the main reason that Solar Power is not widely used today.