Solar energy for all practical purposes is the sole provider of energy on Earth. Having said that,
it is important to make an attempt at harvesting the vast amounts of solar energy now going
awaste, by economically viable methods.
Current emphasis in this regard is on PV Panels and there are advantages as well as disadvantages encountered.
- The Solar Energy incident on the Earth is a staggering 6,000 times or so than the
electricity consumed by the current human population on Earth (approximately 15 terawatts)!
This is excluding the chemical energy converted by billions of photosynthesizing plants.
- Solar Electrical power generation has the best power density of all renewable energy systems.
- From the point of view of environment protection, it is the cleanest in use. The ultimate recycling (of components) ~
will be at least 20 years later if not longer. The technology for recycling is not yet developed at the moment but is under control. It does not really matter though, as in 20 years time recycling is envisaged to be well established.
- As said above the life span is over twenty years easily. The initial capital investment will be recovered many times by that time.
- PV Panels need only minimum maintenance and that too mostly with low technology and thus economical. The operating cost too is very much less due to the above.
- For some locations remote from the grid mains it is the only viable solution and in fact is very economical to set up, operate and maintain.
- In seasons when solar load is highest and the demand too is at a peak (for example due to heavy air condition load) the solar power generation is fortunately at the highest. When Solar Electricity System is grid connected, it would off set the peak power required, reduce the load on the utility power grid and also generate an additional income.
- The transmission losses in a power grid are drastically reduced due to localized connection.
- The pay back period is generally long due to the high cost of PV modules. Mass production, newer technology and manufacturing techniques would shorten the payback period though.
- Presently no reliable and viable recycling process exist though a break through is expected soon.
- The efficiency of the currently mass produced PV Modules decreases by about 20% in twenty years or so after commissioning. If you are retrofitting your home electricity system, consider use of solar energy.
While battery storage of power is possible, grid tied system will be more practical and viable.