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Solar Energy: 7 Disadvantages of Solar Energy You Should Know.

7 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Solar energy has been in many discussions for the past couple of decades as the new frontier of energy production. Is it true though? We have implemented the use of solar in many industries and applications. The reality is that much like any technology, there are advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.

Solar is a great way to drive down emissions & create a clean energy infrastructure. However, it is not a panacea and not perfect.

What is Solar Energy?

As the name suggests, solar energy refers to the energy harnesses from the sun. In practical terms, the concept of solar energy is far older than the advent of solar panels. Humans have been known to use the power of the sun as early as the 7th BC. We have evidence to suggest that ancient humans used concentrated sunlight, with the help of natural lens like materials to start fires.

Nowadays, the primary way we use solar is by converting sunlight/solar radiation into electricity with the help of solar cells. Unlike conventional forms of energy production, solar is non-polluting and non-exhaustive. The question is, is converting to solar power worth it? To answer that question, first, let’s discuss the disadvantages & possible advantages of solar energy.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

In theory, solar sounds like the perfect source of energy, and should be preferred everywhere. However, when it comes time for practical applications, it is far from perfect & gives rise to many challenges.

Implementation Cost

The biggest issue with solar energy is the initial cost of implementation. Components of these systems have high production costs due to the advanced manufacturing methods & rare resources they use. For example, the high-grade silicon required for photovoltaic cells in the solar panels, or lithium used to make batteries. Combining all these different expenses, it can cost around ₹5,00,000 - ₹7,00,000 in an average household.

Vulnerable to Weather

Since solar panels require exposure to direct sunlight to work effectively and generate electricity, they are particularly vulnerable to weather conditions that block sun rays. In conditions like storms, cloudy days, and rain showers, the efficacy of solar power systems can go down significantly.

Compatibility to Climate

Like mentioned above, the efficiency of this technology goes down significantly with overcasting weather. Areas where the natural climate presents obstacles to solar radiation or direct sunlight are not suitable for the application of solar energy.

Space Requirement

To effectively generate a lot of you would need to set an array of solar panels to generate enough energy to make the system viable. The big problem with solar is that it takes a lot of space to set up an effective system. The amount of energy generated is directly proportional to the surface area of the solar cells.

Harmful to Avians

It is not widely known, but solar arrays are a danger to avians (birds). These panels not just absorb but also reflect sunlight. In California, there is a solar plant where the arrays reflect concentrated sunlight, these rays are responsible for killing around 6000 birds per year, by roasting them alive. In addition, arrays may resemble water sources like rivers to birds, who may dive towards them in search of food.

Conversion Efficiency

Although the input (sunlight) is abundant & not likely to run out anytime soon, solar panels are not very efficient. The average conversion rate of a top-of-the-line panel is 47.1%, and this is for just an experimental panel not available to the public or even companies. The average conversion rate of panels available to the public is 15% to 21%.

Cost of Storage

Once you have generated power, you will need a way to store that power once the sun goes down. Unless you like sleeping without heat, you will need to invest in an efficient battery with good storage power. There are certain problems with batteries though, they are expensive to make as they require rare earth elements to make. Batteries are also not 100% efficient, at most, they can have a conversion efficiency of 95%. In addition, they are also prone to heat degradation, meaning that as the temperature of the battery goes up, so does its capacity to store charge and operational life.

Difficult to Relocate

Due to the size and delicate nature of solar arrays, it is next to impossible to relocate them. As we said, you can still do it, but the cost involved doesn’t make it a viable option. So, people who are renting their place of living don’t often rely on solar power.

Difficult to Recycle

Although once manufactures, these systems do not create any pollution or harmful emissions during operation, they are a hassle to get rid of. The operational lifespan of a solar panel is 30 to 35 years, so this is not that big of an issue. But when the time does come, recycling PV cells can be a nightmare. This is because the net revenue of recycled panels is negative. Meaning, that the cost of recycling a PV panel, cost more than the price of the materials you’ll get after recycling.

Advantages of Solar Power

Now that we’ve answered your first question, let us stop demonizing solar power and look at the bright side. The fact that even after so many downsides, we are still developing and looking at solar as viable, is because of its advantages. So, let’s check out all that this technology has to offer.

Clean Source of Energy

As mentioned above, solar is considered a clean unconventional source of energy. A photovoltaic cell utilizes semi-conductor cells to convert light into electricity through a process called photovoltaic induction. Therefore, aside from the pollution caused during the mining of raw materials, manufacturing and transporting solar power systems do not create any pollution.


By this point in your life, you probably know the scale of our sun and how minuscule we are in front of the universe. Stars like sun often have a lifespan of 9 to 10 billion years, so it’s safe to say that we don’t have to worry about facing a day without the sun. And, long as we have access to sunlight, we can harness its energy to create electricity.

Dynamic Usage

Other sources of energy like gas, coal, and oil, require specific generation plants & technology and are suitable for different applications. For example, you cannot use petrol to generate electricity for your home. Solar energy on the other hand almost completely tackles this issue. To clarify, this technology doesn’t require a large and technical plant to be viable. Anyone who can afford it, can implement a solar array on their property and operate their electric power plant. With such a system, you can power your entire home, charge your devices & vehicles, etc.

Return on Investment

Even though the initial cost that goes into setting up such a system is extremely high, once set up, this system will act as a source of income. Solar power systems have a long operational lifespan (about 30 – 35 years), and require little to no maintenance, as they lack any mechanical parts. You also can become completely independent from the conventional power grid, saving you money on the electricity bill. Also, any additional power you generate, you can sell to the government and get deductions from your bills or money.

Independence from Grid

A big enough system can produce & store enough electricity to cover your daily energy need. In that case, you can become completely independent from the local electricity grid. This means that over time, you will save a lot of money by removing the cost of electricity from your expenses. In addition to that, you don’t have to worry about blackouts and rising costs.

Low Maintenance Cost

A solar energy system consists of two basic components, solar panels & solar chargers, lacking any moving/mechanical parts. Once set up, a solar power system doesn’t require any maintenance or servicing aside from checking and cleaning.

Different Methods of Harnessing Solar Power

Photovoltaic Cells are the most common type of solar power technology we use, however, there are other methods of harnessing this power. Below are some of the technologies used to harness solar power, other than PV cells.

(A). Solar Heating & Cooling – Using the heat from the sunlight to heat water, generating steam. The steam is then used to either heat the air or other liquids or drive a turbine to power up a compressor.

(B). Concentrating Solar Power – CSP uses a collecting mirror to focus sunlight on a singular point. Then use the beam to heat water and drive traditional steam turbines to generate electricity.


Like any kind of energy source and technology, there are both advantages & disadvantages of solar energy. However, the importance of solar relies on two facts, one, it’s inexhaustible and like most other sources, it is extremely clean. But before choosing to convert to solar, make sure to factor in all the pros & cons to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the main negative of solar energy?

Ans - The biggest problem with converting to solar power is the initial cost of installation. The main components of solar, namely – PV Cells and Batteries are very expensive to manufacture.

Q2. What is solar energy with example?

Ans - Solar energy refers to any technology that derives power from solar radiation to get any kind of work done. For example, Photovoltaic Cells convert sunlight into electricity, CSP systems heat or cool using sunlight, etc.

Q3. Is solar energy renewable?

Ans - Yes, the generation of solar energy depends solely on the light coming from the sun. As long as there is a sun, we can harness its energy to generate electricity or drive other machinations

Q4. How to get solar power for homes?

Ans - It has become quite easy to implement solar power in homes. All you need is enough solar panels to meet your electricity needs (around 30 – 40 kWh output). Then get a solar charger and battery to store the electricity. The cost of implementing solar energy solutions in an average home in India is roughly ₹5,00,000 to ₹7,00,000.

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  • Created on May 05, 2022
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