Impacts of Energy Sources

Solar Energy

The factors needed to determine the ideal location of a solar power plant include lots of open flat areas, lots of sunshine, and no shadowing trees or buildings. The infrastructure (basic building facilities and installations) required to develop solar energy is a solar power plant to make power and the electrical grid for power distribution.

Advantages of Solar Energy

Solar energy is widely available and unlimited. No air or water pollution is given off when solar panels are used for energy production. It does not require transport of fuels or disposal of waste products. Solar energy produces electricity very quietly so it can be used in residential areas without creating noise pollution. Solar panels can be installed on top of many rooftops. Therefore, large amounts of open areas or not required for typical household use. Solar panels do not require a direct connection to the grid.

Solar energy has the ability to make electricity in remote locations that are not linked to the grid. This is more cost efficient than running long sets of wires into remote locations.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The initial cost of solar cells can be quite expensive, typically over $1000 per solar panel and may cost up to $20,000 to convert a typical home. Solar energy is only able to generate electricity during day light hours. Energy must be stored for later use in battery systems. Weather or smog may also limit the efficiency of solar energy, however new technologies are being developed to overcome this obstacle.

Large area solar farms can create heat islands or cause ecological damage such as habitat loss. Solar farms also require a large area (up to thousands of acres) and therefore have a large land footprint. However, the sunniest areas such as arid environments are not heavy vegetated, and habitat disruption is less than it would be in forested regions. Residential applications do not result large-scale ecological damage; however, some habitat loss is experienced due to tree removal designed to improve sun exposure for rooftop panels.



Back to Student Resources