Why isn’t solar energy widely used?

673 views

Why isn’t solar energy widely used?

In: Technology

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.)

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

A huge part of it is that…uh…solar energy is only efficient during the day. At night, when the sun is down, it’s a pretty useless energy source.

Which means that it’s not really anyones first and only alternative.

Adding to that, it’s only in recent years that batteries has gotten so cost-efficient that it is starting to make sense to build solar production, accumulate electricity in batteries and use it up during the night.

Now that batteries all of a sudden ARE getting a lot better, solar panels are also getting a massive lookover and are getting a lot better every year.

Despite the obvious drawback, it’s now…not necessarily “there” yet as a good energy source, but it’s definitely showing a lot of potential as an energy alternative source.

Most solar panels are installed on houses that have a regular electrical feed incoming too; there is a very obvious alternative to fall back on when the solar panel is not producing much.

It is in some places… I’ve seen some big solar installations on islands, India, Italy, etc. Southern Germany they’ve put solar on every building it seems…