Solar energy is one of the most abundant renewable resources in the world. In fact, it’s so abundant that we could meet global energy demand from solar alone several times over. Unfortunately, there are some challenges that are making it more difficult for people to adopt solar energy as a primary source of electricity. There are several problems with solar energy right now, but fortunately, most of these can be mitigated with continued research on solar energy blog and development. Here are some of the biggest challenges with solar energy and how they can be fixed.
Limited availability of sunlight
One of the biggest challenges with solar energy is the limited availability of sunlight. While the sun’s energy is virtually unlimited, humans can’t always use that energy. In fact, because the sun doesn’t shine at night, we actually only have access to about 10% of the total solar energy that is available each day. This 10% is known as the “net yield” of solar energy and it is much less than the “gross yield” of solar energy. While the gross yield of solar is exponential and almost endless, the net yield is limited and makes solar less attractive as a main source of electricity.
High up-front costs for consumers
Another challenge with solar energy is the high up-front costs associated with installation. Solar panels are expensive to purchase and install, and they take a long time to start paying for themselves. Unfortunately, consumers need to consider the up-front costs of solar energy too when calculating profit.
For example, if a person installs solar panels on their house today and expects to break even in 10 years, they’re already late. Break-even could easily be 15 years or more depending on where they live. A lot of people don’t have the cash on hand to pay for these up-front costs, especially when times are tight. Most solar energy systems require a large upfront investment and a long time to start paying for themselves.
Poor storage capabilities
Another challenge with solar energy is the poor storage capabilities of most photovoltaic (PV) cells. This is a problem because it is rare that the demand for electricity and the availability of sunlight are perfectly matched. Most electricity grids rely on a constant and consistent source of power. This is important because we don’t want electricity interruptions and outages. Generally, a constant source of electricity makes it easier to manage the grid and prevents power outages.
Unfortunately, the sun isn’t always shining when we need it to be. Solar energy isn’t a constant source of power. Instead, it is a sporadic and unpredictable supply of energy. This intermittency is a challenge for conventional electricity grids because they aren’t designed to handle variability or unpredictability in supply. Conventional electricity grids aren’t equipped to store the excess solar energy that is generated when the sun is shining.
Inefficient recycling of solar waste
Another challenge with solar energy is the inefficiency of recycling the waste materials produced by solar cells. Solar panels generate waste as a byproduct of the energy production process, and this waste material needs to be recycled and disposed of properly. Unfortunately, the process of recycling solar waste is expensive and inefficient.
Solar panels are made of silicon and this silicon gets turned into a material called silicon dioxide when the panels are created. This silicon dioxide is then used to create more silicon panels. This process of recycling silicon dioxide is costly, inefficient, and uses a lot of energy. This inefficiency is problematic because it wastes the energy that the silicon panels harvested when they were still in use.
Solar energy is a great source of renewable energy, and it can be a viable alternative to conventional electricity sources in many places around the world. However, there are several problems with solar energy that could be addressed with continued research and development. These include limited availability of sunlight, high up-front costs for consumers, poor storage capabilities, and inefficient recycling of solar waste. Fortunately, many of these challenges are solvable with future research. There are many promising efforts in solar energy, and the future looks bright for this renewable energy source.