Renewable Energy Roundup: 5 Myths About Solar Energy

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Renewable energy continues to advance, particularly the solar energy market which is dynamic and evolving quickly. Proof you say? Let’s take a look at a few facts first.

  • The solar industry had another record-breaking year in 2015, with installed capacity increasing 16% over 2014 installations.
  • At the same time, solar system prices fell by 17%.
  • For the first ever, solar beat natural gas in new power capacity last year, with solar energy contributing 29.4% of total new electric generation capacity.

Meanwhile, solar technology advances are making systems more energy efficient and resistant to shade from trees and buildings, allowing them to produce a larger percentage of overall household energy consumption. Many solar installers now offer solar system monitoring, so homeowners can view historic and real-time solar system output data. With such a dynamic market and with technology advances, things that were true a few years ago may no longer be true today.

Researching renewable energy

Separating fact from fiction, let’s take a look at a few myths about solar energy that still prevail. Here are the Top 5 myths about renewable energy — specifically solar.

Myth 1: Solar PV systems require a lot of maintenance and upkeep

With no moving parts, grid-tied solar electric systems (without batteries) requires virtually no maintenance. This is impressive, considering the design life of most solar systems is 25 to 30 years. Most solar panel manufacturers even provide 20 to 30 year warranties, because the technology is so reliable.

It is however recommended to inspect solar panels for dust or debris a couple times a year, and clean them with the garden hose if necessary to ensure optimum energy output. Use caution when viewing or cleaning solar panels from high heights, if they cannot be clearly viewed from the ground. Most solar system owners never do inspect panels for cleanliness or clean them however and their systems continues to perform well.

Most residential solar systems are connected to the electric grid and have no batteries, which makes them more efficient than a system with batteries. Most utility companies across the country have net metering programs to credit solar system owners for feeding solar electricity to the power grid, when the system is generating more than the home consumes at the time.

Batteries decrease the sustainability and efficiency of the solar system, as not all the power is actually captured and used. Like any other kind of battery, solar system batteries do require maintenance and will need to be replaced every five to ten years. They are also bulky and the batteries themselves have an environmental impact, even if they are recycled at the end of their life.

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