6 Solar Energy Myths
In terms of electric generation, solar panels are widely regarded to be one of mankind’s greatest innovations. In fact, over the past 50 years, production of solar PV panels has increased dramatically – and none more so than in the past 5 years.
However, solar energy continues to be surrounded in a variety of myths and misconceptions. From the amount of sunshine solar panels need to work, to their unsightly appearance, Solar Guide sets out to put the record straight by debunking six of the most popular myths.
6 Solar Energy Myths
It’s too expensive
Okay, so it’s still not cheap. But with some time and patience it can pay for itself. Whilst the cost of traditional energy sources continues to rise and rise, the price of solar technology is coming down. In fact, the cost of systems has come down dramatically in the last 18 or so months. For example, a large 4kWp system currently costs around £6,000. The same system, two years ago, would have been nearer to £20,000. Thanks to the feed-in tariff (Fit) Government incentive scheme, a well designed system has the potential to have paid for itself in around seven years.
Solar will look ugly on my roof
Let’s face it, it’s all really a matter of taste at the end of the day. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some may say they look unsightly, whilst others will marvel as their aesthetic beauty. It’s fair to say that solar panels do look “better” in they are fitted flush to the roof and therefore are more akin to skylights. There’s also the solar tile option – as opposed to the panels – although they work out more costly. However, neither of these alternatives will work as efficiently as a properly tilted conventional solar panel.
They won’t work if you live in a cloudy, cold climate
It’s common sense that solar panels are going to work best in sunny climates. But the myth that they won’t work in the UK is incorrect because it is the radiation from the sun – not temperature and heat – that provides photovoltaic generation. Germany, a country certainly not renown for its hot sunny weather, is the world leader in solar energy. So although solar panels will gather more energy in sunny climates, it can still work in a place like Alaska.
Solar panels are hard to maintain
That’s certainly not true. Having no moving parts means they require no or hardly any maintenance. The inverter is the most fragile part in a grid-connected solar energy system. Lasting in the region of ten years, it can cost around 10% of your total energy system costs. Overall, solar panels actually need very little maintenance. In fact, you just have to keep them clean from dust for maximum efficiency. So if you live in a rainy climate, they’ll virtually keep themselves clean.
The efficiency of solar panels is still too low
Yes, by and large their efficiency levels are not as high as the industry would like them to be. But solar panels are getting more and more efficient year by year. As new types of solar panels are developed, so too will their efficiency. That’s not to say though, that they aren’t good enough.
The panels won’t last 20 years
The known and accepted lifespan of solar panels is around 20-25 years, with some lasting even longer. In fact, there are solar installations dating back to the 70s that are still producing cheap clean electricity. The Government’s 20 year guarantee for the feed-in tariff scheme (formerly 25 years) is there for a reason; because it mirrors the expected lifespan of the solar PV panels used in a household installations.