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The Dark Side of Solar Power

  • Atalay Atasu,
  • Serasu Duran,
  • Luk N. Van Wassenhove

disadvantages of solar energy essay

Solar energy is a rapidly growing market, which should be good news for the environment. Unfortunately there’s a catch. The replacement rate of solar panels is faster than expected and given the current very high recycling costs, there’s a real danger that all used panels will go straight to landfill (along with equally hard-to-recycle wind turbines). Regulators and industry players need to start improving the economics and scale of recycling capabilities before the avalanche of solar panels hits.

As interest in clean energy surges, used solar panels are going straight into landfill.

It’s sunny times for solar power. In the U.S., home installations of solar panels have fully rebounded from the Covid slump, with analysts predicting more than 19 gigawatts of total capacity installed , compared to 13 gigawatts at the close of 2019. Over the next 10 years, that number may quadruple, according to industry research data . And that’s not even taking into consideration the further impact of possible new regulations and incentives launched by the green-friendly Biden administration.

Solar’s pandemic-proof performance is due in large part to the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which defrays 26% of solar-related expenses for all residential and commercial customers (just down from 30% during 2006–2019). After 2023, the tax credit will step down to a permanent 10% for commercial installers and will disappear entirely for home buyers. Therefore, sales of solar will probably burn even hotter in the coming months, as buyers race to cash in while they still can.

Tax subsidies are not the only reason for the solar explosion. The conversion efficiency of panels has improved by as much as 0.5% each year for the last 10 years, even as production costs (and thus prices) have sharply declined, thanks to several waves of manufacturing innovation mostly driven by industry-dominant Chinese panel producers. For the end consumer, this amounts to far lower up-front costs per kilowatt of energy generated.

This is all great news, not just for the industry but also for anyone who acknowledges the need to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy for the sake of our planet’s future. But there’s a massive caveat that very few are talking about.

Panels, Panels Everywhere

Economic incentives are rapidly aligning to encourage customers to trade their existing panels for newer, cheaper, more efficient models. In an industry where circularity solutions such as recycling remain woefully inadequate, the sheer volume of discarded panels will soon pose a risk of existentially damaging proportions.

To be sure, this is not the story one gets from official industry and government sources. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)’s official projections assert that “large amounts of annual waste are anticipated by the early 2030s” and could total 78 million tonnes by the year 2050. That’s a staggering amount, undoubtedly. But with so many years to prepare, it describes a billion-dollar opportunity for recapture of valuable materials rather than a dire threat. The threat is hidden by the fact that IRENA’s predictions are premised upon customers keeping their panels in place for the entirety of their 30-year life cycle. They do not account for the possibility of widespread early replacement.

Our research does. Using real U.S. data, we modeled the incentives affecting consumers’ decisions whether to replace under various scenarios. We surmised that three variables were particularly salient in determining replacement decisions: installation price, compensation rate (i.e., the going rate for solar energy sold to the grid), and module efficiency. If the cost of trading up is low enough, and the efficiency and compensation rate are high enough, we posit that rational consumers will make the switch, regardless of whether their existing panels have lived out a full 30 years.

As an example, consider a hypothetical consumer (call her “Ms. Brown”) living in California who installed solar panels on her home in 2011. Theoretically, she could keep the panels in place for 30 years, i.e., until 2041. At the time of installation, the total cost was $40,800, 30% of which was tax deductible thanks to the Solar Investment Tax Credit. In 2011, Ms. Brown could expect to generate 12,000 kilowatts of energy through her solar panels, or roughly $2,100 worth of electricity. In each following year, the efficiency of her panel decreases by approximately one percent due to module degradation.

Now imagine that in the year 2026, halfway through the life cycle of her equipment, Ms. Brown starts to look at her solar options again. She’s heard the latest generation of panels are cheaper and more efficient — and when she does her homework, she finds that that is very much the case. Going by actual current projections, the Ms. Brown of 2026 will find that costs associated with buying and installing solar panels have fallen by 70% from where they were in 2011. Moreover, the new-generation panels will yield $2,800 in annual revenue, $700 more than her existing setup when it was new. All told, upgrading her panels now rather than waiting another 15 years will increase the net present value (NPV) of her solar rig by more than $3,000 in 2011 dollars. If Ms. Brown is a rational actor, she will opt for early replacement. And if she were especially shrewd in money matters, she would have come to that decision even sooner — our calculations for the Ms. Brown scenario show the replacement NPV overtaking that of panel retention starting in 2021.

The Solar Trash Wave. According to our research, cumulative waste projections will rise far sooner and more sharply than most analysts expect. A line graph shows the cumulative capacity of solar panel waste from 2020 to 2050 in three different scenarios. Assuming that no faults occur over the 30-year life cycle of the equipment, waste does not begin to accumulate until around 2040 and then rises sharply to nearly 20 gigawatts by 2050. A second scenario shows the official forecast from the International Renewable Energy Agency, known as IRENA, which allows for some replacements earlier in the life cycle. In this case, solar panel waste begins to accumulate around 2030, rising steadily to about 15 gigawatts by 2050. A third scenario, which represents waste projections predicted by our model and is based on early replacement of solar panels, shows waste beginning to accumulate almost immediately, by 2023, and rising sharply to reach nearly 20 gigawatts by 2040. Source: International Renewable Energy Agency, Electricity Data Browser, Global Solar Atlas.

If early replacements occur as predicted by our statistical model , they can produce 50 times more waste in just four years than IRENA anticipates. That figure translates to around 315,000 metric tonnes of waste, based on an estimate of 90 tonnes per MW weight-to-power ratio.

Alarming as they are, these stats may not do full justice to the crisis, as our analysis is restricted to residential installations. With commercial and industrial panels added to the picture, the scale of replacements could be much, much larger.

The High Cost of Solar Trash

The industry’s current circular capacity is woefully unprepared for the deluge of waste that is likely to come. The financial incentive to invest in recycling has never been very strong in solar. While panels contain small amounts of valuable materials such as silver, they are mostly made of glass, an extremely low-value material. The long life span of solar panels also serves to disincentivize innovation in this area.

As a result, solar’s production boom has left its recycling infrastructure in the dust. To give you some indication, First Solar is the sole U.S. panel manufacturer we know of with an up-and-running recycling initiative, which only applies to the company’s own products at a global capacity of two million panels per year. With the current capacity, it costs an estimated $20–$30 to recycle one panel. Sending that same panel to a landfill would cost a mere $1–$2.

The direct cost of recycling is only part of the end-of-life burden, however. Panels are delicate, bulky pieces of equipment usually installed on rooftops in the residential context. Specialized labor is required to detach and remove them, lest they shatter to smithereens before they make it onto the truck. In addition, some governments may classify solar panels as hazardous waste, due to the small amounts of heavy metals (cadmium, lead, etc.) they contain. This classification carries with it a string of expensive restrictions — hazardous waste can only be transported at designated times and via select routes, etc.

The totality of these unforeseen costs could crush industry competitiveness. If we plot future installations according to a logistic growth curve capped at 700 GW by 2050 (NREL’s estimated ceiling for the U.S. residential market) alongside the early-replacement curve, we see the volume of waste surpassing that of new installations by the year 2031. By 2035, discarded panels would outweigh new units sold by 2.56 times. In turn, this would catapult the LCOE (levelized cost of energy, a measure of the overall cost of an energy-producing asset over its lifetime) to four times the current projection. The economics of solar — so bright-seeming from the vantage point of 2021 — would darken quickly as the industry sinks under the weight of its own trash.

Who Pays the Bill?

It will almost certainly fall to regulators to decide who will bear the cleanup costs. As waste from the first wave of early replacements piles up in the next few years, the U.S. government — starting with the states, but surely escalating to the federal level — will introduce solar panel recycling legislation. Conceivably, future regulations in the U.S. will follow the model of the European Union’s WEEE Directive, a legal framework for the recycling and disposal of electronic waste throughout EU member states. The U.S. states that have enacted electronics-recycling legislation have mostly cleaved to the WEEE model. (The Directive was amended in 2014 to include solar panels.) In the EU, recycling responsibilities for past (historic) waste have been apportioned to manufacturers based on current market share.

A first step to forestalling disaster may be for solar panel producers to start lobbying for similar legislation in the United States immediately, instead of waiting for solar panels to start clogging landfills. In our experience drafting and implementing the revision of the original WEEE Directive in the late 2000s, we found one of the biggest challenges in those early years was assigning responsibility for the vast amount of accumulated waste generated by companies no longer in the electronics business (so-called orphan waste).

In the case of solar, the problem is made even thornier by new rules out of Beijing that shave subsidies for solar panel producers while increasing mandatory competitive bidding for new solar projects. In an industry dominated by Chinese players, this ramps up the uncertainty factor. With reduced support from the central government, it’s possible that some Chinese producers may fall out of the market. One of the reasons to push legislation now rather than later is to ensure that the responsibility for recycling the imminent first wave of waste is shared fairly by makers of the equipment concerned. If legislation comes too late, the remaining players may be forced to deal with the expensive mess that erstwhile Chinese producers left behind.

But first and foremost, the required solar panel recycling capacity has to be built, as part of a comprehensive end-of-life infrastructure also encompassing uninstallation, transportation, and (in the meantime) adequate storage facilities for solar waste. If even the most optimistic of our early-replacement forecasts are accurate, there may not be enough time for companies to accomplish this alone. Government subsidies are probably the only way to quickly develop capacity commensurate to the magnitude of the looming waste problem. Corporate lobbyists can make a convincing case for government intervention, centered on the idea that waste is a negative externality of the rapid innovation necessary for widespread adoption of new energy technologies such as solar. The cost of creating end-of-life infrastructure for solar, therefore, is an inescapable part of the R&D package that goes along with supporting green energy.

It’s Not Just Solar

The same problem is looming for other renewable-energy technologies. For example, barring a major increase in processing capability, experts expect that more than 720,000 tons worth of gargantuan wind-turbine blades will end up in U.S. landfills over the next 20 years. According to prevailing estimates, only five percent of electric-vehicle batteries are currently recycled — a lag that automakers are racing to rectify as sales figures for electric cars continue to rise as much as 40% year-on-year. The only essential difference between these green technologies and solar panels is that the latter doubles as a revenue-generating engine for the consumer. Two separate profit-seeking actors — panel producers and the end consumer — thus must be satisfied in order for adoption to occur at scale.

None of this should raise serious doubts about the future or necessity of renewables. The science is indisputable: Continuing to rely on fossil fuels to the extent we currently do will bequeath a damaged if not dying planet to future generations. Compared with all we stand to gain or lose, the four decades or so it will likely take for the economics of solar to stabilize to the point that consumers won’t feel compelled to cut short the life cycle of their panels seems decidedly small. But that lofty purpose doesn’t make the shift to renewable energy any easier in reality. Of all sectors, sustainable technology can least afford to be shortsighted about the waste it creates. A strategy for entering the circular economy is absolutely essential — and the sooner, the better.

  • AA Atalay Atasu is a professor of technology and operations management and the Bianca and James Pitt Chair in Environmental Sustainability at INSEAD.
  • SD Serasu Duran is a professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business in Calgary, Alberta.
  • LW Luk N. Van Wassenhove is the Henry Ford Chaired Professor of Manufacturing, Emeritus, at INSEAD and leads its Humanitarian Research Group and its Sustainable Operations Initiative.

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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy?

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy?

In the race to reach net-zero emissions, countries around the world are looking to scale up and eventually depend on renewable energy to substitute polluting fossil fuels. Solar is the most abundant, fastest, and cheapest energy source on Earth, and it generates minimal greenhouse gas emissions. Although this renewable energy is rapidly growing across the globe, with an increasing number of countries investing in it, there are some factors that could hinder its growth. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of solar energy and how does this valuable renewable resource work and w?

What Is Solar Energy and How Does It Work?

The vital role in which the sun plays in life on Earth has been celebrated since ancient times. Egyptians in Africa were the first people known to use solar energy on a large scale to heat their homes, designating them in a way that could store up the sun’s heat during the day and release it at night. Fast forward to today, societies around the world have developed innovative technologies that allow us to turn the sun’s energy into electricity that powers heating and cooling systems, transportation, lighting, and ventilation, just to name a few. 

This energy source is growing fast: between 2010 and 2019, solar rose from 0.06% to 1.11% of the global energy mix. In 2020, it recorded a record growth of 22% as installations experienced a boom. Among the countries that have poured the most money into solar energy are China – by far the largest investor, the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. The latter aims to be a global leader in solar energy, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi committing to increase energy from renewable sources up to 50% by the end of 2030 . In Europe, Spain is one of the first countries to deploy large-scale solar photovoltaics and the largest producer of solar-powered electricity on the continent. 

advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

Global Solar Energy Generation, 2019. Image: Our World in Data.

Before we move on to some of the advantages and disadvantages of solar, it is worth answering a question: how does solar energy work? 

When sunlight strikes the Earth’s surface, human-made innovative technologies capture their light and heat and convert these into electrical energy. This conversion happens through photovoltaic (PV) panels, which contain cells that can capture the sunlight’s energy. This energy generates electrical charges that move around the cell, causing electricity to flow. An alternative to PV is solar thermal panels: as opposed to PV generating electricity, thermal panels create heat. When installed on a roof facing the sun, they capture the hot sun rays which are used to heat water stored in a cylinder.  

While many nations are starting to recognise the vast potential of solar energy – a powerful and extremely beneficial renewable source – there are still some downsides to it. We explore the main advantages and disadvantages of solar energy. 

You might also like: 12 Solar Energy Facts You Might Not Know About

5 Advantages of Solar Energy

1. solar is a renewable energy source.

As the name suggests, solar power is a resource that never runs out. Unlike fossil fuels, the production of which requires huge efforts, time, and expensive heavy machinery, renewables convert a natural resource – in the case of solar power, sunlight – directly into electricity. Another big factor that makes renewable energy much more attractive than coal, oil, and natural gas is the significant difference in emissions, namely fossi fuels being one of the world’s largest contributors to the generation of greenhouse gases. Renewable energy sources are not only cleaner but also cheaper and easier to produce than any fossil fuel. But what makes solar energy particularly advantageous over other sources of renewable energy?

2. Solar Energy is Immensely Abundant

In fact, solar is the most abundant energy source on the planet and throughout the years, we managed to develop innovative technologies that could allow us to depend entirely on solar for the rest of our existence. Another huge advantage is that just a tiny fraction of the sunlight we get every day can provide a huge amount of energy. Indeed, the US Department of Energy argues that an hour and a half of sunlight that reaches the planet’s surface generates enough power to meet all of humanity’s energy consumption for an entire year.

3. Solar Technologies Are Getting More Efficient

Over the years, scientists have made some important advances in the development of solar technologies, notably improving the efficiency of solar panels and battery storage systems as well as their overall durability over time. According to Rhone Resch , President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the global PV sector has been growing at an average of over 40% in the last eight years and major advances in automation, manufacturing, and throughput have considerably improved this technology. Most panels today are between 15% and 20% efficient , meaning that they are able to convert 15% to 20% of the amount of sunlight they absorb into electricity. Panels’ efficiency has improved consistently over the past decade, a promising factor and one that contributes to continued cost reduction. Furthermore, their resistance to extreme weather has been drastically improved, bringing their average durability to about three decades with little to no loss in efficiency. 

Improvements have also been made in battery storage systems , which are emerging as a key solution to effectively integrate solar renewables in global power systems on a large scale. Most of the world’s utility-scale storage systems are being deployed in Australia, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Small islands and off-grid communities have invested in large-scale battery storage systems to store excess energy. However, an increasing number of small-scale batteries are also being produced and they are expected to complement utility-scale applications by 2030.   

4. Solar Panels Are Getting Cheaper

In the list of the advantages of solar energy, price is an important point. In its World Energy Outlook 2020 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirmed that solar power schemes now offer the cheapest electricity in history. In its 2021 report, the Agency predicted that by 2050, renewable energy generation will keep growing, with solar power production skyrocketing and becoming the world’s primary source of electricity . Solar energy is indeed praised for the relatively marginal operation and maintenance costs of panels. While the cost of panels itself is the most critical part of the overall equation, solar is definitely a cheap source of power that can considerably lower the electricity bill in the long run. 

advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

World Net Electricity Generation By Source, 2010-2050. Image: EIA.

5. Solar Life Cycle Generates Minimal Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

Lastly, solar energy generation’s minimal contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is one of the main benefits of this renewable energy source. Indeed, solar power produces no emissions during generation itself and studies demonstrate that it has a considerably smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuels over its life cycle. Even though PV modules and other components are made of materials that are mined and processed and thus generate some levels of emissions, solar is still undoubtedly a carbon-smart energy source whose lifetime emissions are insignificant when compared to coal and natural gas. In fact, a coal power plant releases on average 25 times more emissions than the ones produced by a solar power system. Similarly, a natural gas power plant, despite being less polluting than coal, still generates 10 times the amount of emissions generated by a solar array. 

You might also like: 4 Indisputable Advantages of Wind Energy

3 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. solar energy is still expensive for households.

Did we not just say that solar energy is getting cheaper? Well, it is true. However, there are some aspects of solar technology that are still quite expensive. Indeed, purchasing a solar system requires a significant initial investment to cover the costs of panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and the installation of the system itself. One of the most expensive parts of the system is the batteries used for solar power storage, which can cost upwards of USD$5,000. When solar energy started being commercialised 40 years ago, the price of panels was also incredibly high. Nevertheless, solar technologies are constantly developing and this is contributing to a significant decrease in prices. Statistics show that the average global cost of solar PV modules has gone down drastically in the first two decades of commercial solar power production and it has been slowly but consistently decreasing ever since. Just a decade ago, an average 6-kilowatt hour residential solar system could cost USD$50,000 or more. However, the price has gone down by an annual average of 62% and nowadays, a typical home installation rarely exceeds UDS$20,000. 

advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

Global Average Cost of Solar PV Module, 1976-2019. Image: Our World in Data.

2. Solar Energy is Weather Dependent  

An undoubted disadvantage of solar energy is that this technology is not equally efficient around the world. While solar power can be generated on a cloudy day, some level of daylight is still required in order to harness the sun’s energy, and the amount of energy that can be produced varies greatly depending on many factors, such as the amount and quality of direct sunlight that the panels receive as well as the size, number, and locations of the panels themselves. Thus, in countries that receive limited sunlight throughout the year, alternative renewable resources like geothermal energy and hydropower might work better. In Iceland, an area with little sunlight and wind, for example, these two energy sources make up 27% and 73% respectively, allowing the country to generate 100% of its energy from renewables . 

3. Solar Power Plants Are Not the Most Environmentally Friendly Option

As we said before, the carbon footprint of solar energy is minimal. However, this renewable still has some aspects, mainly related to land use and waste generation, that can still harm the environment. First and foremost, solar power plants require space. For example, a solar power plant to provide electricity for 1,000 homes would require 32 acres of land . This means that, in order to meet the US energy consumption needs, nearly 19 million acres, equivalent to 0.8% of the entire country, would be necessary. 

Another factor to consider is the management and disposal of hazardous materials such as metals and glass needed to build some components of solar infrastructure that are energy-intensive to produce and thus responsible for the generation of carbon emissions. Building PV cells and panels also requires some hazardous chemicals and heavy metals. To avoid harming the environment, such materials necessitate careful management and disposal procedures once the solar plant’s life comes to an end. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) projects that by 2050, solar energy systems could be responsible for up to 78 million tonnes of waste. 

Should We Still Invest in Solar Energy? 

The short answer is yes. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ energy source. From nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable resources, all of them have many advantages but also some disadvantages, solar energy included. However, as we are quickly running out of time in the race to reach zero emissions, it is crucial that all countries begin to seriously evaluate which sources of energy can bring the most benefits. While solar energy might not be the best solution for northern countries for the lack of sunlight they receive throughout the year, and some of its disadvantages such as the extensive land use that the installation of solar panels requires might not make it the best candidate for everyone, this renewable resource, along with all others, certainly has undeniable potential and it still a better alternative to environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels, beyond being the best chance we have at stopping global warming. 

If you enjoyed reading about the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, you might also like: Can We Build Solar Power Systems in Space?

About the Author

disadvantages of solar energy essay

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Solar Energy Essay


500 Words Essay On Solar Energy

Solar energy is the energy which the earth receives from the sun which converts into thermal or electrical energy. Moreover, solar energy influences the climate of the earth and weather to sustain life. It has great potential which we must use to our advantage fully. Through the solar energy essay, we will look at this in detail and know more about it carefully.

solar energy essay

Importance of Solar Energy

Solar energy is very important as it is a clean and renewable source of energy. Thus, this means it will not damage the earth in any way. In addition, it is available on a daily basis. Similarly, it does not cause any kind of pollution.

As it is environment-friendly, it is very important in today’s world. It is so much better than other pollution sources of energies like fossil fuels and more. Further, it has low maintenance costs.

Solar panel systems do not require a lot of solar power energy. Moreover, they come with 5-10 years of warranty which is very beneficial. Most importantly, it reduces the cost of electricity bills.

In other words, we use it mostly for cooking and heating up our homes. Thus, it drops the utility bills cost and helps us save some extra money. Further, solar energy also has many possible applications.

A lot of communities and villages make use of solar energy to power their homes, offices and more. Further, we can use it in areas where there is no access to a power grid. For instance, distilling the water is Africa and powering the satellites in space.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Uses of Solar Energy

In today’s world, we use solar energy for a lot of things. Firstly, we use solar power for many things as small as calculators to as big as power plants which power the entire city. We use the most common solar power for small things.

For instance, many calculators use solar cells to operate, thus they never run out of batteries. Moreover, we also have some watches which run on solar cells. Similarly, there are also radios which run on solar cells.

Thus, you see so many things run on solar power. All satellites run on solar power otherwise they won’t be able to function. Moreover, large desalinization plants make use of solar power if there is little or no freshwater.

In addition, many countries have solar furnaces. We also use solar power commercially and residentially. You will find its uses in transportation service too. In fact, soon, solar powers will also be out on the streets.

Conclusion of Solar Energy Essay

To sum it up, solar energy is a cost-effective means of energy which is quite useful for people that have huge families. When we install solar panels, we can get solar energy which will reduce electricity costs and allow us to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Thus, we must all try to use it well to our advantage.

FAQ of Solar Energy Essay

Question 1: What is solar energy in simple words?

Answer 1: Solar energy is basically the transformation of heat, the energy which is derived from the sun. We have been using it for thousands of years in numerous different ways all over the world. The oldest uses of solar energy are for heating, cooking, and drying.

Question 2: What are the advantages of solar energy?

Answer 2: There are many advantages of solar energy. Firstly, it is a renewable source of energy which makes it healthy. Moreover, it also reduces the electricity bills of ours. After that, we can also use it for diverse applications. Further, it also has low maintenance costs.


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disadvantages of solar energy essay

Solar Energy Project

Solar energy.

The Sun is one of the major renewable energy sources. The radiating light and heat from the sun are harnessed and converted into other forms of energy. In this article, let us learn about solar energy in detail.

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is defined as the transformation of energy that is present in the sun and is one of the renewable energies . Once the sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere, most of it is in the form of visible light and infrared radiation. Plants use it to convert into sugar and starches; this conversion process is known as photosynthesis. Solar cell panels are used to convert this energy into electricity.

Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of solar energy are:.

  • Clean: It is considered to be the cleanest form of energy as there is no carbon dioxide emission like in the case of fossil fuels which is one of the causes of global warming.
  • Renewable: There is ample energy available on earth as long as the sun exists.
  • Reliable: The energy can be stored in the batteries, so there is no unreliability.
  • reduction in utility costs.
  • Free energy because it can be trapped easily.

Disadvantages of solar energy:

  • The production is low during winters and on cloudy days.
  • Installation and the initial cost of the materials are expensive.
  • Space consumption is more.

Types of Solar Energy

Solar energy can be classified into two categories depending upon the mode of conversion and type of energy it is converted into. Passive solar energy and active solar energy belong to the mode of conversion and solar thermal energy, photovoltaic solar power and concentrating solar power.

  • Passive solar energy refers to trapping the sun’s energy without using mechanical devices.
  • Active solar energy uses mechanical devices to collect, store, and distribute energy.
  • Solar thermal energy: This energy is obtained by converting solar energy into heat.
  • Photovoltaic solar power is the energy obtained by converting solar energy into electricity.
  • Concentrating solar power: This is a type of thermal energy used to generate solar power electricity.

Solar energy – the experiment on the efficiency of the solar heating working model is one of the easiest science experiments that you can prepare for your school fair science project. This working model is quick, simple and very informative.

The result may vary if the project is performed outdoors due to the wind and weather conditions, so it is recommended to conduct the experiment indoors.

In this solar heater project, reflectors concentrate the solar energy in one small place to collect and store heat energy. In this experiment, you will see the efficiency of solar energy.

Solar Energy

Materials Required

  • A wooden stand
  • Thermometer
  • A concave or converging mirror
  • Tube to flow liquid.
  • Black paper
  • Mount the wooden stand
  • Roll pieces of black paper around the tube.
  • Attach the tube in the concave mirror in a way where the sunlight concentrates in one direction.
  • Fill the tube with tap water
  • After 30 minutes, record the temperature of the tube.


To calculate the efficiency of the concave mirror solar heater, you can divide the temperature increase by the direct sunlight. Eventually, the temperature of the water increases after 30 minutes as the heat is transferred through the concave mirror and concentrated on the tube.

Uses Of Solar Energy

  • Water heating: Solar energy is used to replace electric heaters and gas as efficiency is more with 15-30%.
  • Heating of swimming pools: Solar blankets are used to keep the pool warm. The other way is by using a solar water heater to keep the water warm.
  • Cooking purposes: Solar cookers are used for cooking food. Solar energy is used to heat, cook and pasteurize food. A solar cooker consists of an elevated heat sink such that when food is placed in it, it gets cooked well.

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is meant by renewable energy, define solar energy., what are the highlights of solar energy, what are the drawbacks of solar energy, what are the main components of a solar cell.

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