When it is time to go green, solar power becomes a favorite source of energy. Many people and institutions continue to adopt this source of energy that is essentially free and available in many places especially along the equator.
But it comes at a cost. There are two matters of concern as far as solar energy is concerned:
A major challenge with wind and solar is that they demand for a spinning reserve in order to compensate for the unpredictable nature of these energy sources. If you have 300 MW, you need to set aside a reliable 100 MW on standby, and this often comes from hydro. The problem with this is that hydro is a very cheap source of power and it is better if we are using it at full capacity. This is something that increases the general cost of electricity.
The alternative could be something different, but dirty, such as coal. As a country increases the use of solar and wind energy, the more it will require to have a different source of power on standby.
The process of manufacturing solar panels is not very clean. On the other hand, the panels do not last forever, and need to be disposed.
There are many places without a definite recycling plans for these panels, and soon we might see a lot of waste starting to pile up. Recycling is not easy, and is not cheap. Manufacturers have to be compelled to recycle, and this would be after a long time of use – 20 years or so. This makes the whole process difficult especially in Africa where the solar panels are imported.
While there are such challenges, the future of solar still looks bright. The technology is improving at a very fast speed and some of the current challenges will be solved with time. The future of solar is still bright.