Top 5 Solar Energy Misconceptions and the truth

Solar Energy

We are using energy from morning to evening, every time energy is used and the need of energy is increasing every day by and because we have to import energy, so we have to take care about its security. Here we will discuss also about the sustainability development and energy access.

There are the different boundary conditions of energy which are constant. There will be questions like, So why not we all use solar energy? And it’s normal that everyone wants to use Solar Energy. But we also know, even after so many promotions, after so many policies Solar Energy is limited in use or common people not use solar energy.

It has many misconceptions due to which Solar Energy is not used by masses. These misconceptions which lasted 10-15 years ago but due to advancement in technology, this is no longer true, but it is still in the mind of people. In this discussion we will explain all the misconceptions and try to clear all the misconceptions.

Misconception 1.

Solar Energy

For the promotion of solar energy, it is important to enhance the efficiency of solar energy or the efficiency of solar photovoltaic technology. Lot of people think like that, but we look in detail, then we find this is not true. To compare we need a to have a comparison point.

For example, if we compare with a natural process which is the photosynthesis process. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants produce their own food ‘carbohydrate’ by using solar energy. We will surprise to know that the efficiency of many plants is not more than 0.5-0.1%. Some plants are fast growing plants which can use as an energy crop for producing biomass having 4-5% efficiency.

Plant Photosynthesis

So when we compare this efficiency to solar modules which are commercially available, having 15, 16, 17, 18 percent, there is not the problem of efficiency and it is more than that of photosynthesis. 

Let’s compare it with the efficiency of a coal power plant, nuclear or hydropower plant. so when we talk about efficiency, the efficiency in between the input and the electricity output of coal it is important to know what the efficiency in between the whole process is. We all know that coal is not present in every country, many countries import coal from other countries, In India 70% of electricity generated from coal.

Hydro power plant

Thus the first to import the coal is coming from mines then transport to the power plants by ship or rail where it is burned, which having efficiency of 30-35% runs the turbines and generator and producing the high voltage which transfers to the large transmission lines.

With help of big transformers where it is step down then transmitted and again it is step down and at last with distribution transformers it is sent to houses.

The whole process involves 8-10% efficiency, as solar modules which are commercially available having efficiencies of about 15-20 %. In fact, there are solar modules which are a little bit costly but their efficiencies are nearly 20-25 %.

At laboratory level, scientist makes the more efficient Solar Modules which are single junction silicon solar cells having efficiency of 25-26%. Also they made thin-film silicon cell, gallium arsenide based solar cell and also multi-junction solar cells, having efficiencies of 45-46% and demonstrated it.

So we can conclude that we do not use solar energy because of its high efficiency, it is used because all the resources have low efficiency in comparison to solar cells. Scientist also trying to make it more efficient and make advancements for increasing solar panels efficiency.

Misconception 2.

Solar Energy cant fulfill needs

There is Misconception that solar energy cannot fulfil all our electricity through solar energy. One thing we can say that solar energy is so advanced that it produce many amount of electricity.

If our requirement is small like a solar study lamp, then you can power it with 2-3 watt solar panel. For bigger requirements, 4-5 lights then we can install a bigger solar panel, like 30-50 watt solar panel.

If there is requirement for light, fan, Television, refrigerator, washing machine and air conditioner and you want them to run 15-20 hours, then you can install 2-3 kilo watt Solar Panel.

Need of electricity at house, factory

We can run this all applications on solar panel 100% so how does this 100% work? In the daytime, when sunlight is there, you generate electricity and store it in the battery.

There are also many inverters that integrate with grid electricity. You use the solar electricity to fulfil your requirements and if there is surplus, you return it to the grid.

If there is a requirement of electricity at night, you can take it from the grid. In all, whatever energy requirements are, including a mobile charger to air conditioner, there exists solar solutions, and you can power the house on solar energy, without taking a connection from the grid. If you feel that you don’t want a connection from the grid, and produce electricity from solar, then you can also do that. You can do it 100% and 24×7.

 The best example that we can take is, that we put power plants from 1-500 MW, while our house requirements are 2-5 KW, and for farming, the irrigation requirement get fulfilled in 4-7 KW and if you have institution, schools, college or factory, its requirements can also be fulfilled with solar. In fact, entire requirement of a town or a village can be fulfilled with solar.

 If you have 100% electricity, then you has two options, either you store the energy that is needed during night time in the battery or you have an interaction with the grid.

If you are interacting your solar system with grid, if surplus electricity is produced, you can give it to the grid and at night and take the electricity from the grid to fulfil your requirements.

 If you font want to do this interaction, the battery technology has become so advanced and becoming cheaper that all your requirements can be stored in the form of a battery. So we can store in the battery, then we become independent.

It is though clear that if we have to run an air conditioner then it would be a little difficult, the battery requirements will be more and thus an increase in the cost.

The remaining application like fan, light, refrigerator, we get efficient appliances in the market and if you use these efficient appliances that run on less electricity then we can produce so much electricity that you can run entirely 100% on solar energy with the help of battery and without taking connection from outside.

So this is misconception that we cannot generate and consume 100% Solar Energy. There are thousands of examples who run their house entirely on solar.

Misconception 3.

Solar Energy requires high maintenance

People think that solar energy requires high maintenance, so this is absolutely not correct. There is a fact that if equipment has no moving parts, the maintenance is very less.

For example, if you have a table in your house, which has no moving parts, like a steady table, what is required for maintenance? Nothing. However, if you have a car which has moving parts, its wheels, its gears move. All this requires more maintenance.

In power plants like coal, hydro or nuclear every power plant has turbines which move and rotate, generators work and have enough moving parts which requires maintenance.

However, solar power plants have no moving parts. It is a very beautiful technology, wherein you take a normal solar cell, the sun rays fall on it and the electricity gets generated.

Solar Energy is High Maintenance?

In fact sometimes it is like magic, and because there is no moving part, there is no need.

What other maintenance is required, like when the dust accumulates at home, and then we clean it.

The solar panel that is kept on the terrace or on the floor, since it is exposed to dust, then we has to clean it. The only maintenance that needs to be taken care of is of cleaning.

If you are regularly cleaning the dust then the solar system requires zero maintenance. 

The life of the solar panel is also hug. The manufactures of the solar panels give a warrant of 20-25 years.

So, it is low maintenance and the warranty is long. Now, if we have battery storage, that we make a standalone system and not take the connection from anywhere, then the maintenance of the battery can take some time.

For example, the lead acid battery, it requires replacements in 5 years. There is a need to change the water in the battery.

However, there are alternatives available for that as well. The sealed maintenance free batteries are also available, that need no water chance, that once you have installed the battery, you just forget it. There are batteries like lithium ferro phosphate, that the life is also more, and there is no need to change the water.

As the technology is advancing, the battery life is also enhancing and the maintenance is also decreasing.

The solar panel is also maintenance free and has huge warranty, but its other accessories like electronics and in certain cases, the battery where you can store energy. these other components life is increasing and at the same time, the maintenance is decreasing.

You and c can expect the battery life to be five years and solar panels life can be 20-25 years and 5-10 years the electronics life. So that misconception of high maintenance is clear.

It is a simple technology and can be easily maintained without having any technical knowledge.

Misconception 4.

Solar Energy Is expensive

Most people think that solar installation is expensive, but we want to show you the real data and facts which will show that solar electricity is not expensive.

For example, if we think solar energy is expensive then we require a comparison point.

Let’s see a coal power plant, in India 70% of electricity comes from coal power plants, which makes it an ideal point for comparison. To set up the coal power plant, the cost of power up to 1 MW is Rs. 5-6 Crores and for nuclear power plants, the cost of 1 MW power is Rs. 7-9 Crores and for Hydro power plant, the cost of 1 mw power is Rs. 10-15 Crores is required.

If we compare it with solar photovoltaic power plant, then its cost Nowadays Rs. 4-5 Crores only.

So Solar power plants are cheaper per MW in comparison to ant other power plants.

When we compare it with respect to electricity, the average cost of 1 unit electricity from the coal power plant (including generation, transmission and distribution) is Rs. 5.5  you can check it on Ministry of power’s website but when we compare it with solar electricity, the government of India charges Rs. 2.5 -3 Rs. per unit.

While some people argue that these are from the bigger power plants. But the cost of grid electricity is not more than Rs. 3-3.5 per unit.

Solar Energy really Expensive ?

If we want to be self dependant and produce our own electricity by installing solar panels on roof top which is not connected to the grid, not having metering connection, having only energy storage with battery, Solar Panel and controller then what will be the cost of this?

Even with battery storage system, the cost of electricity from standalone solar Systems per unit is Rs. 6-10, depending on storage capacity. It is almost comparable to the industrial electricity whose electricity rate is Rs. 8-10. 

So, if you have misconceptions that solar electricity is expensive then clear, this misconception with respect to all the facts and data given. Another question is solar electricity is cheaper in longer life but its initial cost is large?

Some business models with which investors want to invest their money on solar, if you have an industry  or a big institution, Many people are interested to invest their money on the roof top, then they may sell the solar electricity at Rs. 5 Per unit ( in exchange for their investment).

In all these they Save their lots of money which is why they would be interested to invest their money on it. Even if you are a domestic user or even you have an industry, then also I will suggest that you have to invest your money.

If you invest your own money then the payback period is short 3-4 years without any subsidy. Your investment will be returned and you can enjoy free electricity up to 20-25 years.  

Misconception 5.

Solar energy require more area

It is common perception that Solar Energy requires more area for installation. then we have to compare it with some is other object.

For example, when a normal car is taken, SUV a big car, so its dimension is 4-4.5 m length and 2 m width and in Sq. Ft. Its area is approximately 100 Sq. Ft. With this 100 Sq. Ft. Area, how much solar panel we can install to fulfil the needs of energy.

So it’s  simple, if your requirement is 100 units then we have to install a 1 kw panel i.e. if we uses 1 kw panel we can produce 100 units of electricity, if requirement is 200 units then 2 kw panel etc. So for 1 kw panel how much area is required? You will surprise that for 1 kw panel 70-75 Sq. Ft. is required.

1 SUV required 100 Sq Ft area, so in this area we can produce 1.5 kw electricity which is 150 units.

There is a simple calculations for those who live in multi-storey buildings, having ground plus two or three floors.

This building will have his area to fulfil the needs of this building of course, it will not fulfil he energy needs if you are using air conditioners in large amounts  but it fulfil the energy needs of light, fan, TV and your other daily needs appliances.

 Not only for home or building his concept is the same for an industry or a country.

For the consumption of the whole country when we produce the electricity from solar energy then how much area will it require? Example, the total area of India is 3.2 million Sq. Km.

And if you want to generate the total electricity consumption of India from solar energy then 8 000 Sq. Km area is required. We can generate electricity for the whole country by using solar PV.

We can use the areas of Deserts, Railway tracks, pipelines and roads for the installation of solar PV systems.

 We don’t need to worry about space and we generate 100% of electricity by using solar photovoltaic systems.

We hope that all your misconceptions cleared that solar panel installation does not required big area or high maintenance neither I is so expensive. The problem of energy which is faced by the country or the whole world is reduced only by using this renewable source of energy.

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7 thoughts on “Top 5 Solar Energy Misconceptions and the truth

  1. Great clearity and information
    Good to see such blog . Solar is still away from people in daily gadgets hope the technology we are developing would be successfully used in daily life .

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