Pros and Cons of Solar Energy from Photovoltaics

Here’s another short video for young people and newcomers to the subject of renewable energy.  In this brief talk on solar energy and photovoltaics (solar panels), I provide my thinking on the strengths and weaknesses of solar power. Hope you enjoy. 

Posted in Photovoltaics Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
6 comments on “Pros and Cons of Solar Energy from Photovoltaics
  1. Frank Eggers says:

    The efficiency of flat panel collectors to heat water is considerably higher than the efficiency of photovoltaic cells and much cheaper. So why not use solar heat to heat water to heat buildings and provide hot water instead of using far less efficient and far more expensive photovoltaic cells? Also, hot water can be stored far more economically than electricity can be stored.

    Of course, both are dangerous; people sometimes fall off of roofs while cleaning them. Also, both create problems when buildings have to have their roofs replaced. The solution there is to have more durable roofs, such as metal roofs. That does add to the cost, but it may be more costly to remove solar panels for re-roofing than replace the panels.

  2. greg chick says:

    My Panels are on the ground!, Hire a window cleaner to do panels on roof! We have car wash expenses what is the ROI on that?

  3. Frank Eggers says:

    Most people would not be able to put the panels on the ground.

    Even professional solar panel installers have been injured or killed falling off of roofs. Usually it is homeowners who clean their own panels and, if they had to hire someone to do the cleaning, probably they would not have the system installed. In some climates, snow and ice need to be removed from them regularly.

    When I lived in San Diego, I had an unfortunate experience with a solar water heater. The first problem was with pump failure and the company that installed the system was no longer around to fix it. At considerable expense, I had to have another company replace the pump, but there was no direct replacement available, so some additional plumbing was required to do the job. Then, about four years after having the system installed, I put the condo up for sale. Before the condo was sold, the home owners’ association had all the roofs in the entire condo complex replaced, so I had to pay to have the panels removed so that the roof could be replaced. The new owner was not interested in the solar water heater, so he scrapped the entire system. The result was that the return on the investment was strongly negative. The only reason I had it installed in the first place was that no gas was available, so electricity had to be used for water heating; that was very expensive so the cost if a solar water heater seemed justifiable.

    Solar water heaters may be economically justified, but probably not unless one can be certain of staying in the house or condominium for a very long time.

  4. Al says:

    There are no real uses for cleaning the solar panels once they are installed. I live in NJ and the rain that comes in pretty frequently usually takes care of cleaning the panels. As far as the value of the solar panels go, if you sell a home with solar panels on it, it will be considerably more valuable.

  5. Anonymous says:

    very bad

    • Craig Shields says:

      LOL! An abbreviated form of constructive criticism. You gave me a good and much-needed laugh, my mysterious and laconic friend.

Download a free e-copy of Craig’s first book, a #1 best-seller in energy on “Renewable Energy–Facts and Fantasies.”

Want to understand the thorny challenges in technology, economics, and politics that face the clean energy industry? Download the book.