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DIY (Do it Yourself) Projects -- Solar Powered Projects
Last Updated on:  06/25/2015 06:30 AM

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar power

  • Solar power is pollution free during use, although the production of the equipment entails some degree of of environmental pollution.
  • Facilities can operate with little maintenance or intervention after initial setup.
  • Solar power is becoming more and more economical as costs associated with production decreases, the technology becomes more effective in energy conversion, and the costs of other energy source alternatives increase.
  • In situations where connection to the electricity grid is difficult or impossible (such as island communities, desolate regions and ocean-going vessels) harvesting solar power is often an economically competitive alternative to energy from traditional sources.
  • When grid connected, solar electric generation can displace the highest cost electricity during times of peak demand (in many climatic regions), can reduce grid loading, and can eliminate the need for local battery power for use in times of darkness and high local demand; such application is encouraged by net metering. Time-of-use net metering can be highly favorable to small photovoltaic systems.
  • Grid connected solar electricity can be used locally thus minimizing transmission/distribution losses (approximately 7.2%).

Solar power at the Earth's surface has a number of disadvantages compared to traditional energy sources:

  • Intermittency: It is not available at night and is reduced when there is cloud cover, decreasing the reliability of peak output performance or requiring a means of energy storage.
  • For power grids to stay functional at all times, backup powerplants must be kept 'hot', to replace solar power stations as they stop producing. There is an energy cost to keep plants 'hot', which includes (in the case of coal plants) the burning of coal. Without fundamental changes in the energy system, little fossil power can therefore be displaced, according to critics.
  • Locations at high latitudes or with frequent cloud cover offer reduced potential for solar power use.
  • It can only realistically be used to power transport vehicles by converted energy into other form of energy suitable for transport, incurring an energy penalty.
  • Solar cell technologies produce DC power which must be converted to the AC power when used in currently existing distribution grids. This again incurs an energy penalty (5-10%) which reduces the real energy output of the solar panels.

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