Busting Solar Myths: Shedding Light on Misconceptions
In today’s modern world, whenever a new science or technology gains momentum, a decent amount of misconceptions and myths spread. The spread of these rumors, usually rooted in fear and misunderstanding, makes many skeptical people accept changes. Solar energy is no exception. Many people get deterred from installing solar panels on their homes because of several common myths and misconceptions that spread, usually via the internet.
Fortunately, solar energy experts work hard to dispel these solar myths and misconceptions, allowing the truth to get revealed. Here are some of the most common solar energy misconceptions and the facts behind them:
Solar Panels are too Expensive
While many people assume that solar energy is prohibitively expensive, it is a much more cost-effective alternative to paying utility rates. According to recent studies, multiple renewable energy sources are now as cost-effective as, if not more so than, fossil fuels. In fact, in 2018 it was projected that by 2020 all renewables should cost less than fossil fuels.
In addition, as people search for ways to cut costs and save money, solar energy also becomes a second source of income. Solar installations now qualify for a federal tax credit of 26%. This tax credit ensures that the federal government will compensate you for 26% of the expense of your solar system through your tax returns.
Moreover, Massachusetts has erected an incentive program called SMART, or Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target. Under this program, the residents of Massachusetts who own solar panels will get paid a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy generated.
Solar Panels do not work in Cloudy Weather
While solar panels perform best when exposed to direct sunlight, a cloudy day will not dramatically reduce the amount of energy your solar panels produce. Solar panels absorb visible light, and clouds still reflect visible light emitted by the sun; thus, even on cloudy days, the solar panels will still work.
Solar Panels need Warm Climates
Many people believe that a solar panel absorbs light and warmth from the sun, worrying that their home would be incompatible with going solar if they live in a colder environment. Solar panels, on the other hand, perform better in colder climates.
Since a solar panel’s role is to absorb light from the sun rather than heat, living in a warmer environment does not guarantee that a solar panel would function better. Contrarily, cold weather increases the conductivity of solar panels, allowing more energy to get produced as long as the region receives plenty of sunlight throughout the year.
Solar Panels will Harm Roofs and Homes
People who are reluctant to install solar panels on their roofs are generally concerned about the amount of work required to accommodate them. They also usually fear scenarios such as the possibility that their roof will get uprooted to accommodate the panels, causing damage to the surrounding structures.
As solar panel design and construction have progressed over time, and many panel designs are simple to mount and protect the roof rather than damage it, people need not worry about them anymore.
Solar Panels do not give ROI Quickly Enough
Switching to solar energy is a significant financial investment for virtually anyone. Thus, it only fits people to be concerned that the initial cost of panels will overshadow the long-term financial benefits. However, contrary to such beliefs, solar panels, in addition to their other economic benefits, may provide a fast return on investment for homeowners.
These solar panels can pay for themselves in 25 years or less, depending on the economic incentives offered by one’s state and the size of one’s solar panel array.
Solar Panels reduce the Home’s Value
Many people believe that solar panels disable the selling of their homes. Solar systems, on the other hand, aim to pique the interest of more consumers. Solar panels are an excellent way to make your home stand out from the competition to prospective buyers. The new occupants of your house would not have to pay an energy bill if you installed panels, a big selling point for homeowners.
Furthermore, solar panels also increase the value of one’s home without raising property taxes. Not to mention that millennials, a significant portion of the US population, are the next generation of homebuyers. Solar and other environmentally friendly innovations and ideas are certainly appealing to this generation, gaining more leverage against competitors: a house will not only sell quickly but at a relatively higher price.
Solar Panels need Constant Maintenance
Solar panels get built to be robust to escape the pain of constant maintenance and repair, as the purpose of solar panels is to improve your home’s efficiency for years to come significantly. It is not a bad idea to have them tested once a year, but properly designed solar panels should only require minor upkeep.
Solar Panels are an Eyesore
Although having a more energy-efficient home is desirable, some homeowners may be concerned that having bulky, unsightly solar panels on their roof would detract from the curb appeal of their home. While the individual homeowner primarily determines the aesthetics of a house with solar panels, solar panel designs consider various decor styles.
Many modern panels are now designed to be sleek and small and can almost appear seamless with the surrounding roof to offer homeowners as pleasant an appearance as possible.
New Technology Keeps Solar on Track
As established, researchers continue to improve solar power, develop better cells, use new materials in panels, and focus on improving efficiency while lowering cost.
Although the solar industry’s growth has slowed since the COVID-19 pandemic, research and development of advanced solar power technologies have remained high and dynamic. There is no shortage of new ideas and products, from bigger, more compact, and more effective solar panels, including improvements to bifacial technology; to building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV); to floating solar farms — dubbed “floatovoltaics” by some; to concepts like solar skins, solar cloth, and even solar roads.
The future of solar can only be realized and live up to its highest potential through software solutions. Solar poses a dynamic scenario, requiring balancing its irregular behavior to generate too much or too little energy during its regular generation period, from long-term power planning to sub-second dispatch decisions.
Thus, you must consider the complexities of the current and future state of the grid, weather, and demand. These considerations are essential to help make accurate decisions about generation position and scale.
Moreover, in terms of weather, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) collaborated with engineering students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) to develop a method for predicting when clouds will cover solar farms and the resulting grid effect. The project is motivated by the utility’s desire to expand its solar power generation capacity.
Solar paint is a form of paint that captures solar energy and converts it to electricity when applied to a surface. It can appear to be ordinary paint, but it contains billions of light-sensitive materials, transforming it into energy-capturing paint. Installing solar paint only necessitates the arrival of a technician after one has finished painting, drastically lowering the most expensive aspect of the solar panel installation method.
Experts cannot use solar paint yet because it’s only 3-8% efficient. That percentage is insufficient for a commercially sustainable product. “Efficient” gets defined as the percent of the total power captured with the sun’s rays. For comparison’s sake, a traditional solar panel operates at approximately 18% efficiency. As a result, solar paint also has a long way to go before it can be considered a reliable source of electricity. However, according to some analysts, solar paint is expected to be commercialized within the next five years.
Solar window engineering is being pursued by scientists and researchers worldwide, much like solar paint. A group of scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has recently developed solar windows that convert transparent glass into tinted glass. When the windows are tinted, sunlight gets converted into electricity.
Furthermore, Michigan State engineering researchers are also working on a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” that will produce solar energy. According to them, the United States has 5-7 billion square meters of glass surface, making this technology capable of meeting 40% of the country’s energy demands.
While solar windows will never be as effective as traditional solar panels because they must be partially transparent, they can create a vast network of small photovoltaic sources. With these, solar window designers claim that the energy savings will outweigh the costs of installation.
Using the sun to power homes and businesses is a much cleaner and safer renewable energy source. As more people aspire to be more energy-efficient, solar panels have sprouted up all over the world.
Switching to solar energy has many environmental and economic advantages. NextLight recognizes the value of dispelling myths and properly educating others about solar power. NextLight educates people and dispels misconceptions to become confident and knowledgeable solar adopters who save money while also helping the environment.