Solar Energy

I have read somewhere that using solar energy is really more environment friendly. Can we rely on it as our main source of energy? For those who have firsthand experience when it comes to using solar panels, what are the pros and cons?

I will weigh in on the Cons side.


  • Power output linearly correlates with required space (no economy of scale, I think we’d need to coat an entire US state in panels to meet energy demand)
  • Only works in mild weather (unless surplus power output can be stored in a hefty mechanism, e.g. lead-acid or flywheel battery)
  • Relatively immobile (reduced output if angle changes without realigning panels)
  • Performance degrades with time, eventually calling for complete replacement (although spaceborne panels degrade 8x faster and solar is still launch-weight-economical)

Conclusion: Solar power is incapable of propelling submarines or intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Qualification: I assembled a plastic solar car kit as part of a project in the sixth grade.

Aren’t storage systems reliable? We do have a lot of space so that’s not really a problem. I’ve read lots of case studies about storage systems so I’m pretty optimistic about it. If I can’t go completely energy independent, I can at least start by using some of both.

You aren’t even allowed to store solar energy here in New Jersey. you have to feed that power back into the electrical grid. Ridiculous.

Fucking bureaucracy.

On a more serious note, no one system is reliable. Coal and oil have been around for a long time and that’s because they’ve been tried and tested to work and produce a large amount of energy at little cost.

Solar’s one method, so is wind (I feel a thicker substance would be a better choice, E.G. Water vs air) of renewable energy. The key is to suit the environment.

If you’re looking to build your own home or renovate it, I’d suggest going with more than one system of power, so in case the primary system fails, you can go with another. Like Tiki said, Solar’s not reliable enough, if it gets cloudy, you’re screwed in most circumstances (unless you’re tied to the grid). As to what my suggestions are for alternatives, that’s all dependent on where you are and the terrain.

Note: I’m not actually qualified to talk about this in detail, I have a rough idea of how I want to build my own home when it comes down to it, self-sufficiency and what not.

It’s a myth that solar panels do not work on cloudy days. They still produce electricity, just not as well. The only way that solar panels wouldn’t work in cloudy weather is if the clouds were to somehow block out ALL sun light. Like, total blackout. Night conditions. If the sky is light, the solar panels will produce electricity.

Thanks for clearing that up. My point still stands though (that being energy output decreases).

Well, so long as they’re not covered with snow. That’s actually the biggest issue where I’m at… (it’s snowing cats and dogs as I type)

The questions of reliability come down to how much electricity to expect. Solar is great for supplementing power usage, but some weeks (or months) are cloudier than others, and winter days are particularly shorter. So if you meet energy equilibrium in the summer, other seasons won’t give you everything you need.

And yes, storage systems are quite reliable. Just keep the initial expenditure in mind, before you start running numbers to see how much you can save…

I’m a proponent of nuclear energy. I am also a fan of sourcing things locally. It’s a shame reactors aren’t the kind of thing you can keep in your back yard… As it stands, solar will have to do.

they should put windshield wipers on solar panels

That beats my idea of putting heating elements in them…

@Tiki reactors in our yards? Do you want a nuclear holocaust? Cause that’s how you get a nuclear holocaust.

No, it’s how you get a banana’s worth of extra radiation over a year, while getting CO2 free energy.

Although I think we should stick with Centralized reactors for now, easier to regulate.

For one, flat solar panels are less effective as compared to the angled panels that are commonly installed on roofs, and they’re also massively more expensive than traditional panels. We’re in a new solar experimental phase right now, as governments assess way to incorporate practical solar energy with existing infrastructure, and without causing a big environmental impact. more: kingaluc