Why isn’t solar energy widely used?
I’ll assume you are referring to solar to electric systems. The largest problem aside from getting panels would be storing the energy for use later. Batteries are expensive and don’t last as long as a panel.
It’s a combination of factors:
1. As a consumer: In the long term panels will save you on your bills but as an initial cost you need a massive capital outlay to install them.
2. As a power company, traditional fuel stations are more profitable.
3. The panels are considered ugly, a lot of people dont want them on their house
4. Historically they have not been particularly efficient. The panel needs a battery to be truly efficient and these are not easy to obtain on the open market (in the UK theres a company called social energy that has just started doing them in the past couple of years, prior to that..nothing) as you often need energy at a time when the sun isn’t out.
Theres some other stuff but that’s the stretch of my memory for the moment
Power density is one reason why. To put out the same power as a fossil plant, the solar farm has a larger footprint.
Seems it looks like no one said it… I’m gonna add another reason: the technology is not that convenient right now, roughly only 22% of the energy gathered by the sun can be converted to usable energy right now.
This is due to a lot of not-eli5 reason, but basically the chemistry of the elements used for solar pannels is not tuned to the maximum potential yet
Solar cells, while the operating principle is simple, are very expensive and difficult to manufacture because of the ceramic materials required. (source: studying materials science and advanced functional materials at university.)