Solar Energy Pros & Cons

The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

Here’s a fun and interesting way to gauge how you and others may think of solar energy.   Is it possible you’ve been hearing some odd things about how we should look at renewable energy --- from those that prefer to see us doing the same old things we’ve been doing, for these past many years?  Achieving a large measure of real energy independence for yourself, your community and the nation is at stake...  
 

PRO

CON

ON BALANCE

ADVANTAGE

Sunshine is free and abundantly available with no mining, drilling or processing involved. The sun is out only half of the day, and sometimes it’s cloudy, raining or snowing besides. Who discards any powerful energy resource, regardless of the amount?  Especially one that is freely available and without having to extract, refine, transport and burn it? PRO
Solar can help relieve the strain on our energy supplies, wild market (price) fluctuations and the entire power grid system. Solar provides under 2% of our energy in the U.S.today.  Its market impact is almost non-existent, and besides: The grid can’t handle solar generator’s own fluctuations (the sun is in & out sometimes) and would be too costly for the utilities to manage.  It remains such a low % of our supply due to powerful forces having prevented its expansion for reasons having nothing to do with ‘grid stability’, or its potential.  Grid-stability concerns are a “red herring”, i.e. – the technology and electro-mechanics required for smoothly handling it already exist, and is a large part of what the national “smart grid” overhaul is meant to resolve.       CON: Solar right now is indeed a tiny part of our supply, powerful market controlling forces (big oil & gas) aside.  Grid issues are real in certain cases of large import of solar electricity, but the grid is in need of work and this will be resolved.
The production of solar energy is waste-free, and creates zero pollution. The equipment itself requires ‘dirty’ fuels, and more than it will ever displace making solar power. Con’s argument was true 20 years ago.  Not today: Solar energy equipment now produces at a rate that displaces its ‘fossil fueled’ manufacture in as little as 2-3 years, and continues working for 20-30 year or more. PRO
Solar can save individuals a lot of money on their power bills. The initial cost of solar is very expensive: Only the rich and environmentalists will spend for it. Solar energy systems cost approx. 70% less than they did just 5 years ago, and are now often paid off in well under 10 years --- with the utility savings that they produce.  “Too expensive” is gas & oil company code for, “Just wait a while longer (and keep paying us instead)”. PRO:This has become a ‘no brainer’ for many.  They’ve chosen to invest in themselves rather than a utility. Broad financing options are also available. 
Solar panels look cool.  They make us feel like we’ve taken a big step toward independence. Solar panels are ugly, and not everyone wants to see them. Many panels today are low profile and of modest appearance.  Those in communities should be mindful of others, though.    DRAW:Beauty still remains in the eye of the beholder...
Nothing is as low-impact on the environment as solar power.  In fact, it is near-zero. Bio-fuels (ethanol, methane, etc) are a high-power source of energy and are also considered “green”.  Wind is also very clean. Large-scale bio-fuel production is an enormous environmental and economic drain, and highly dubious: 6 million acres of inedible corn now goes into making a 1% gasoline demand replacement (and a bad one, at that)?  Please…bio-fuel production in the U.S. is little more than the pairing of giant agricultural and petro-industry interests, having nothing to do with being “green” except where the press is concerned.
Wind is clean, but highly localized and expensive.  Solar can be put anywhere, and causes zero harm.    
PRO
We can positively change the future of our power (and our children’s futures) by embracing solar energy.  We’ll keep finding cheap fossil fuels, and come up with better ways to convert (burn) them into usable power. Leaving industry to find more fossil fuel and burn it “cleaner” – a very relative term – has worked out great the last 40 years.  Anybody trust that their hydro-fracking the earth under our feet for cheaper natural gas is the best solution?    PRO