The cost of solar power has decreased so significantly that it now makes economic sense to consider going solar even if you don’t consume a lot of energy. Despite the many upsides of solar power, there are some significant downsides as well. Let’s take a closer look at these downsides.
Taxes & Mandates
Taxes and mandates are two ways that governments fund themselves, and in both cases, solar energy is hit especially hard. Solar power generates no royalties or rents, and the cost to manufacture solar cells and modules is almost entirely tax-deductible. This puts an incredible burden on solar power companies, as they must continuously raise prices to make up for these costs, and pass them on to customers in the form of higher energy bills.
On the other side of the coin, residential solar power systems are usually mandated by law to be placed on a roof. The energy companies that sell solar energy products don’t want to lose this business, so they typically comply with these mandates, knowing that some of these customers will never use the full capacity of their systems.
One of the biggest downsides of solar power is that it’s only useful when the sun is shining, so you’ll either need to find a way to store it or run it off when the sun isn’t shining. Batteries can be very expensive and heavy, which is why they’re usually only bought by large businesses with the financial wherewithal to invest in a large-scale renewable energy system. These batteries can then be used to store energy during the day when the sun is shining, so it can be accessed at any time. The problem with this solution is that if the sun isn’t shining, you’re pretty much stuck with what you have.
The key benefit of solar is that it provides a steady stream of energy, which some people may find more convenient than having to run all their appliances at once, in order to keep the energy bill down.
The production of solar cells and modules requires significant amounts of raw materials, such as copper, aluminum, and other metals, as well as silicon. The environmental impact of extracting these minerals is considerable, especially in light of the fact that many companies re-cycle less than 10% of the minerals they process, while the rest are usually thrown away as waste. The majority of these minerals come from sources that are environmentally unfriendly, such as China and other Asian countries. These countries don’t always have the best track record when it comes to preserving nature and the environment, so you should consider where you’re getting your materials from before making a purchase.
If you want to make sure your energy sources are sustainable and environmentally friendly, then purchasing and using conventional energy sources would be the way to go. Conventional energy sources are tried and tested, and the costs to innovate them are usually high, which is why they’re not always the most viable solution. The alternative for conventional energy is usually renewable energy sources, such as solar power, which are still relatively new and unstable, due to technological and financial innovation, meaning that prices and quality can both vary greatly. For these reasons, and the fact that many governments have policies that protect solar energy products from being undermined by competition, it’s not always the best option to go solar if you’re a business or an individual consumer.
Renewable energy is hitting the energy market fast, due in part to the benefits it can provide to individuals and businesses, as well as the impact it can have on the environment. As costs slowly decrease, more and more people will be able to participate in this game-changing energy source.