Solar Energy is defined as the radiant or electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun. In a broad sense, solar technologies have two main types, which are passive and active systems.
Evolution of Solar Energy
As early as the 7th Century B.C., solar energy has been used in many ways all over the world. The Greeks, Romans, Anasazis, and Chinese people were the very first civilizations that have utilized the sun’s energy.
Greeks and Chinese have used “burning mirrors” in lighting torches for religious purposes; meanwhile Romans have believed to use passive solar heating by orienting the windows of bathhouses to the south direction to capture solar heat.
The Anasazis or the Pueblo people in North America have also used a similar concept of passive solar heating by orienting their cliff dwellings in the south to capture the winter sun. From these humble beginnings, solar energy today has evolved into much more because of the advanced technologies and continued research done. It is not too long that solar energy will be a standard form of energy and not just an alternative source.
For homeowners or investors on solar energy, it is best to know more about the pros and cons of solar energy. This will help gauge the limits and expectations in choosing this alternative energy source. Below are some major pros and cons of solar energy.
Renewable and Sustainable.
The sun can produce energy 420 trillion kilowatt-hours or 10,000 times more than what the world consumes every year. Solar energy, unlike natural gas, oil, coal, or exhaustible energy resources, is an unlimited source of energy.
Initially, investing in solar-powered systems can be expensive. But in the long run, no incurring costs are paid unless, of course, these systems include sparing homeowners and business establishments paying electric bills. Aside from this, there is a decrease in initial costs, the continued improvements and research on solar energy makes systems and equipment more and more affordable.
Friendly to the Environment.
If we talk about renewability and sustainability, solar energy has zero CO2 or carbon emissions.
Low Maintenance and Easy Installation.
Since solar panels and other solar energy systems do not require wiring, it is easier to install. Some homeowners may even install these systems with the aid of an instruction manual. Once this renewable system is installed, they can be functional for many decades, and with little or no moving parts, it is easier to maintain.
Research and Incentives.
As research on solar energy progresses, the number of various incentives is also increasing. Tax incentives such as the 2005 Energy Policy Act applies to US citizens who have opted for renewable energy resources. This Act provides proprietors who invest in solar panels and any related equipment of tax credit up to a maximum of $2000, or that’s 30% of the total amount invested.
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Another tax incentive that is better than the previous act is the EESA2008 or the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which was approved in 2008. This allows more credit for home improvements with the use of solar energy and renewable energy. With the EESA2008, the 2005 Energy Policy Act was eliminated.
Households with solar panel systems that are large enough to make an electric meter spin backward, power companies actually can buy or will credit the excess electricity.
The initial cost of purchasing and installing solar energy systems can be expensive. Added costs will come from renovations needed on a structure to replace existing wiring or electrical and heating systems.
Since solar energy is harnessed from the sun, it is not possible to collect during storms or locations where little or no natural light or heat is emitted. Some may use solar power generators for remote locations.
With the fast pace of technological advancements and the increasing awareness of this energy source, the pros mentioned above and cons of solar energy can change over time.