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Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages | A Full Guide

Solar energy is used to power electricity, heating, and ventilation. Its prevalence is not a secret as more people switch to solar power systems as means of helping the environment and their finances.

There have been 1,231,125 installations in the United Kingdom as of October 2022, as shown in a report by the UK Government regarding solar photovoltaic deployment.

However, this is yet to be the majority of UK residents, and there is still a clamour for more to address environmental problems.

If you are still undecided about whether or not to install solar panels, we will help you by listing down all the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.

An Overview of Solar Power Systems

Solar power systems convert solar power through a process called photovoltaics. The process works like this:

  1. Sunlight strikes solar panels
  2. Solar panels absorb solar energy
  3. Solar panels store their own energy in a battery storage system
  4. Solar power from solar batteries becomes electric charges to generate power

Usually, a solar panel system is composed of solar panels, inverters, and electric metres. The latest data from the World Resources Institute (WRI) shows that even with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the use of solar power grew by 23% globally.

In the United Kingdom, solar power companies made 14,399 installations of solar power systems in October of 2022 alone.

Although it has been relatively beneficial for the environment and the people, installing solar panels is deemed expensive.

Nonetheless, the use of this can help in different key areas, which we will delve into more in later sections, such as:

  • Renewable energy lessening effects on pollution
  • Reducing electricity bills
  • Having low maintenance costs
  • Increasing property value
  • Promoting energy independence

View our post here to find out more about solar panel costs in the UK.

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    The Advantages of Solar Energy & Solar Panels

    To put into perspective what solar power and overall solar energy systems can positively give you, listed below are the solar energy pros:

    1) Renewable Energy Source

    The first of the solar incentives of having panels installed is that it is a source of renewable energy, which can be reused and never run out.

    Having renewable energy means preventing more adverse effects and controlling existing global warming issues, primarily by lessening the impact of pollution.

    Relating to this case is the status of the United Kingdom. A 2019 report from the Committee on Climate Change shows that 14% of the total home population contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

    With solar power at hand, this can be lessened because solar power does NOT need the following to generate electricity:

    • Burning fossil fuels
    • Generating carbon footprint
    • Burning natural gas

    It is also important to remember that research from the UK Parliament Office of Science and Technology shows that solar power is a non-fossil fuel-based energy source along with wind, nuclear, hydro, and biomass.

    2) Reduces Electricity Bills

    What makes a solar power system a hit among UK residents - having an average of 10,000 instalments monthly in 2022 - is that it helps alleviate the weight of their electric bills.

    With a solar power system, you do not have to generate electricity from your energy supplier, as you will use the energy accumulated by solar panels.

    Solar panels can store solar energy through a battery storage system. Then, when solar energy is needed, the solar battery will release it to the inverter to convert it into an alternating current.

    Moreover, the use of solar energy is befitting, especially nowadays when there are apparent rising energy costs. Based on a report from the UK Parliament, the average energy cost in the UK is £760 in 2021, and it will increase by 65% in 2022.

    3) Low Maintenance Costs

    Another thing that makes a solar power system worth buying is its low maintenance. You do not need extensive cleaning of high-end equipment or care.

    You only need to ensure that the solar panels are free of leaves, specks of dust, and other things that can block its solar cells from receiving sunlight.

    With light cleaning of the solar cells, you can enjoy clean energy from your solar panels for at least 30 years.

    However, to ensure that you will not be having major revamps on your solar panels before it reaches their 30-year-period, your priority must be finding the best solar company that offers the following characteristics:

    • Durable solar cells
    • With premium polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin-film
    • High-efficiency
    • Reasonable price
    • Environmentally-considerate manufacturing process

    FUN FACT: A solar panel is made of silicon as a semiconductor, which makes it have lower maintenance costs, along with the fact that a solar panel does not have any moving components.

    4) Increases Property Value

    Installing solar power systems entails durability, sustainability, and, unfortunately, a high initial cost.

    However, the high initial cost can benefit you, increasing your property value. This means that your solar panels are considered great investments.

    Once you plan on renting or selling your house, you can have an efficient return on investment when you price your asset for an optimal value, given that you are not paying for any high electricity bills.

    This happens because homebuyers and investors tend to focus on your solar-powered home's efficiency, long-term cost, and return on investment after they benefit from a lower electric bill.

    Moreover, the average increase you can get for your solar-powered houses in the United Kingdom is approximately £30,000.

    This is just an estimate because you have solar panels generating energy for your home; the cost for other considerations is yet to be computed.

    It will also get higher depending on where your house is in the UK.

    5) Energy Independence

    Energy independence means that you have energy independent from big electric grid suppliers and companies.

    This kind of energy production happens without high costs from the mere activity of generating energy.

    In addition, this independence gives you the benefit of controlling your energy use, especially during peak electric rates: 7 AM to 11 AM and 5 PM to 9 PM Western European Time.

    Also, a solar system with battery storage installed in your house will give you enough opportunity for energy storage, even if there are power outages.

    Enormous credit is given to the solar panel, which does the job of absorbing the heat from the sun.

    Most importantly, you enjoy energy independence for as long as you install more solar panels and replace old solar panels within a maximum of 30 years.

    6) UK Offers Smart Export Guarantee

    Another benefit of having solar energy from solar panels in the United Kingdom is the UK Government's initiative of having a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

    This government initiative aims to pay small-scale generators which are exerting low-carbon electricity. You will get paid by sizeable SEG-licenced electricity suppliers when you export the surplus energy to the grid.

    You can get at least 4.1p per kilowatt-hour on every solar power you export to the grid. Nonetheless, this pricing can still get higher when you partner with bigger SEG licencees in the UK.

    It is also important to note that these licenced SEG electricity suppliers have the liberty to choose the contract length and rate that they will pay you, as mandated by the UK Government.

    Nevertheless, this SEG tariff scheme is an excellent way to encourage UK residents to invest in solar panels and switch entirely to solar energy to generate their buildings' power. 

    The Disadvantages of Solar Energy & Solar Panels

    With the benefits coming from a solar system, disadvantages of solar energy systems also exist. Here is a complete list of solar energy cons that you should be wary about:

    1) Expensive Initial Cost

    For starters, solar panel installation has a high upfront cost ranging from £3,500 to £7,300 for residential buildings, making it one of the biggest disadvantages of a solar energy system.

    The cost of solar panels greatly depends on the size you want for your household. In addition, choosing the solar panels' sizes is also based on how small or big your house is, especially if you want to cover the electricity for your entire abode.

    Nonetheless, it is also essential to note that small-scale solar installation has increased in the UK by 15% or £1,876 per kW based on the UK Government's solar power deployment report.

    The good thing is that the best solar companies can alleviate this once you thoroughly search for one in the solar energy market that offers interest-free financing options for solar panel installation.

    2) Dependant on Weather

    Another thing that is considered one of the disadvantages of a solar energy system is weather dependency.

    Of course, you cannot produce power and more electricity without sunlight, especially during winter, which happens in December, January, and February of every year.

    Although solar panels can work during these times, we cannot assure how much energy produced will be because it will still depend on how much excess power was stored when there was still sunlight and heat.

    The good thing is that companies innovated newly-released solar panels to adapt to all weather conditions and be resilient even in extreme situations.

    Also, there is another thing to be thankful for when it rains, as solar panels can collect dust on them and the rain can wash away the dirt for you naturally.

    With this, your solar panels can elevate their performance once sunlight and heat come their way because there will be no debris or dirt on your solar panels.

    3) Space-consuming

    It is also worth mentioning that one of the disadvantages of solar panels is the fact that they are space-consuming.

    In this case, you will need 16 to 24 standard-sized solar panels on a flat roof for a full-house-free energy source. This is deemed a lot, especially for an average family home.

    However, you will have the choice of installing solar panels in your yards, and you can also opt for solar panels tiles.

    But, these can cost you more and may not be as efficient as regular solar panels.

    In addition, a roof space consumed by solar panels will lessen the aesthetics of your house when in an aerial view, as it will look like a solar power plant.

    However, there's nothing a good solar panel company can do, especially with the proper arrangement of your solar panels.

    Solar panel tiles, however, can efficiently generate solar power and, at the same time, be pleasing to the eyes!

    Also, there have been inventions on transparent solar energy windows which can change this space-consuming narrative.

    4) Solar Panels Need a Specific Roof Type

    Solar panels work best when they are correctly attached to a roof. Yet, the roof requirements may be a little too tight. Aside from the needed roof space, your roof must NOT be one of these:

    • Wood roofs
    • Slate roofs
    • Thatched roofs
    • Steep roofs

    These roofs may not hold the solar panels' total weight and can even hamper how much solar energy they can get because of the limited solar panel positions these roofs offer.

    It is considered one of the worst disadvantages of solar energy systems because it limits who can install one.

    Also, if you want solar panels, you may need to change your roofing, which will add to the high initial cost of solar panels.

    You can also relocate your solar panel system, but it will yield different results with the roof-placed solar panels.

    For a solar panel installation, the following roofs are needed for easier installation (little to no drilling):

    • Standing seam metal roofs
    • Asphalt shingles roofs
    • Tile roofs
    • Concrete roofs

    Why Is Solar Energy Important?

    Solar energy is essential for the environment and the people because of these specific benefits:

    • It gives off clean energy, preventing more damages caused by greenhouse gases and helping the environment.
    • It lessens hazardous waste from electricity-powered devices, gadgets, and houses.
    • Solar-powered homes are home to green energy sources without burning fossil fuels, carbon dioxide, and natural gas.
    • Excess energy in solar technology can be stored and used at later times, especially when natural disasters create unscheduled power outages.
    • Lower energy bills or electric bill costs will help you save your finances and direct them for healthcare, education, food, and other essentials.

    How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

    With regular light cleaning, solar panels in a solar energy system can last for at least 25 to 30 years. After this period, it may not be as efficient in storing and producing energy.

    By this time, it will not affect your energy bills that much. Hence, you need to replace the solar panels after that period.

    Conclusion: Is a Solar Panel System Worth It?

    At the end of the day, solar panels are worth it because of the following reasons:

    • A source of green energy
    • Can be reused
    • Reduce energy bills
    • Have low maintenance
    • Increase property value
    • Generate SEG tariffs
    • Promote energy independence

    Although it can be expensive as it has a high upfront cost, you can still have a return on investment once it reduces electricity bills.

    Also, even if it can be space-consuming, it can still give you renewable and clean energy.

    It is also essential to consider that even if it's weather-dependant, investing in solar panels can help you store enough solar energy to power your house through the dark.

    All these benefits are attainable if you switch to a solar power system with the right solar contractors and the most durable solar panels on the market.

    Final Words

    If you are looking for a sign to switch to solar energy, this article is all you need.

    So when you need to be reminded of why you should opt for solar power systems, feel free to re-read this article and dive deep into the pros and cons of solar energy.

    Now, there's only one thing left for you to do: Get your home solar energy-powered!

    Did you know that Solar Panel Installation can match you with 3 local installers who will provide you with a free quote? Fill out our form today to get in touch with installers.

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    Mark McShane
    Content Writer
    Mark McShane is a seasoned professional in the solar industry and the owner of Skills Training Group, a leading provider of solar training and education. With years of experience in the field, Mark has developed a deep understanding of the latest trends, technologies and best practices in the industry. His expertise and passion for solar energy have helped countless professionals develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the fast-growing field of solar energy. Whether you’re an aspiring solar professional or an experienced industry veteran, Mark is an excellent resource for anyone looking to enhance their skills and knowledge of the solar industry.
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