Solar energy is an innovative form of renewable energy produced by solar cells. The solar cells are arranged into solar panels which can then be installed onto roofs or joined together into an array to form a solar energy plant. But what exactly are the advantages of solar cells?
What are the Advantages of Solar Cells?
For something to have advantages, it must of course be in comparison to something else. As solar cells produce electrical energy, they can be compared to other forms of electrical energy production. These can be classified into two main groups, renewable energy and non-renewable energy. We will look at each in turn, analysing the advantages of using solar cells.
1) Non-Renewable Energy
Everyone is pretty familiar with the problems of using non-renewable energy by now. Those are, generally, that they pollute the environment and that one day it will run out. When it comes to pollution there are the local, short term effects and global, long term effects. The short term effects include, for instance, the smoke that is produced when burning fossil fuels, which degrades air quality and can have a detrimental effect on land and water sources as well. The long term effects are those caused by global warming, due to the emission of carbon dioxide when these non-renewable energy sources are burned. Neither should be taken lightly. But what about the advantages of using solar cells instead?
Quite simply, once the solar cells have been constructed, their use does not create any more pollution. Since they do not encourage extra energy use, this also means that the energy they produce does not need to be produced by non-renewable energy sources, so that the amount of pollution produced is actually cut.
As for non-renewable energy running out, solar cells have the advantage that they never will. They do have a life span and have to be replaced after several decades of use, but beyond that they will last as long as the Sun is in the sky.
So far however, all of the advantages cited for solar cells could equally well be applied to any other forms of renewable energy. Wind turbines will last as long as there is wind, tidal energy production can continue as long as there are tides and so on. So what are the advantages of solar cells over other forms of renewable energy?
2) Renewable Energy
Solar cells, and the solar panels they are arranged into, are relatively small. They can fit on roofs. They can also be put together for solar energy farms. In fact, smaller solar cells can power calculators and soon a whole host of other portable electronic devices. With the use of spray-on, nano sized solar cells which are in development, they could power just about anything. The main advantage solar cells have over other forms of renewable energy is therefore their versatility.
Wind turbines, tidal energy producers and other forms of renewable energy generally require a lot of work in construction and a lot of space. It is unlikely that a mini wind turbine will ever power a watch, for instance. They are also, for some, an eye-sore whereas solar cells can be integrated into the environment much easier.
Solar cells therefore have many advantages over both traditional, non-renewable forms of energy and more modern, renewable energy forms.