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Debunking Solar Energy Myths

Debunking myths and public misconceptions about solar energy.

Solar panels have been around for many years now, but there are still many misconceptions amongst the general public about the technology involved. In this article we look at some of the more common misconceptions and attempt to separate science fact from science fiction.

Solar Energy Can’t Be Produced If It’s Not Sunny

This is one of the most common myths concerning solar panels and is perhaps an understandable one, especially as “solar” is included in their name. Solar panels actually don’t need direct sunlight and they still generate clean energy in cloudy or overcast weather conditions. Although these conditions can reduce the capacity of the panels by roughly 50%, they still produce electricity. An article in The Guardian newspaper in 2012 looked at how well solar panels performed in the North of England as opposed to the sunnier South and found that there was little difference in terms of the power they generated.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/the-northerner/2012/sep/18/solar-panels-leeds-manchester-liverpool-sheffield-newcastle

While solar panels generate more energy with the more sun they receive, the effects of a cloudy climate can be less important than you might imagine. Additionally, recent research has suggested that west-facing panels are just as efficient as those that face south.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomkonrad/2013/11/22/your-solar-panels-arent-facing-the-wrong-way/

Solar Panels Are Too Expensive

Although solar panels are not currently the cheapest means of producing energy, their cost is continually decreasing in contrast with the rising prices of traditional energy sources. The cost of solar panels has in fact dropped significantly over the past few years. In 2010, a 4kWp system could have cost as much as £20,000. Now it would cost just £6,000 and this price will keep on falling with breakthroughs in solar technology, as is explained in this article:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/breakthrough-in-solar-panel-manufacture-promises-cheap-energy-within-a-decade-9563136.html

The falling cost of solar panels, combined with Government initiatives such as the feed-in tariff (FIT) have made it possible to pay off a well designed system in less than seven years.

If you run a business with an unused rooftop, perhaps you should consider the ‘rent-a-roof’ scheme that Lightsource offer. This involves leasing out your roof space to us, so we pay you for the right to using it for our solar installation.

Alternatively, you have the option of partaking in Lightsource’s Power Purchase Agreement. This involves Lightsource placing a solar installation on your rooftop, with no cost or disruption to your business. You then receive fixed electricity costs for the next 25 years, which Lightsource commit to maintaining, ensuring peak electricity generation for the duration of the agreement. Whatever your budget – the expert team at Lightsource will be able to advise you on your best option.

I Won’t Be Able To Get My Investment Back

With the advances in technology and the government schemes mentioned above, it is now possible to pay off the cost of investing in solar panels in less than seven years. This is despite the Government cutting the rate of the FIT in 2012, after first introducing the incentive scheme in 2010.

In a recent Which? survey, their members revealed that their average cost of a 3.6-4kWp system decreased from £11,300 in 2010 to £7,286 in 2013/14.

Solar Technology Is Always Improving So Should I Wait Before Installing Panels

A common misconception about solar panels is that they are a relatively new product and it’s therefore best to wait for the technology to advance and the cost to drop before investing.

In fact photovoltaic or pv energy has been in use for over half a century and the technology is now firmly established. The falling price of semiconductors in the 1970s in turn drove down the price of solar technology to a point where they were affordable for the average household, but it is true that solar panels have suffered from a lack of efficiency in the past.

The urgent need for governments to invest in renewable or sustainable energies has prompted recent technological breakthroughs that combat this problem of efficiency as explained below. It is quite possible that the government might reduce the rate of the FIT again in the future, so in reality there has never been a better time to invest in solar and there is little benefit in delaying the inevitable, when you could be saving energy (and the planet) right now.

Solar Panels Are Not Efficient

There is still room for improvement but the same could also be said for cars, where new fuels and engine enhancements are making them more economical with every year that passes. Solar panels are now a mature technology and the overall design behind solar panels has evolved to an extremely high level. Scientists are constantly searching for ways to improve them, with the goal of generating greater electrical efficiency, whilst minimising the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

With the amount of research currently being undertaken in renewable energy and particularly in solar energy, there are continual breakthroughs in solar panel technology which make them evermore efficient as has recently been reported:

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/184977-new-material-could-provide-massive-boost-to-solar-cell-efficiency

Although solar panels will probably become even more efficient in the future (as is the case with most technologies) the infrastructure already exists to begin generating your own energy, to gain independence from the grid, to lower your electricity costs and also your carbon footprint.

Solar Panels Require Constant Maintenance

This is one of the major advantages of partnering with Lightsource for a commercial installation. When Lightsource install your solar panels, you do not need to worry about maintaining them. Lightsource visit the site around four times a year to cut the surrounding grass, wash the panels and perform other checks for general maintenance. The aim of course is to always keep maintenance and any disruption to a minimum.

If you’ve ever installed your own solar panels, then you may know that they don’t require as much maintenance as many people imagine. The panels need to be kept relatively clean, especially from dust and debris and you will need to make sure that they are not overshadowed by trees, but there is little else that needs to be done. Additionally, if your panels are tilted at 15° or more, you will have the added benefit of rainfall regularly cleaning them.

Installing Solar Panels Is Complicated

Whether you have a commercial rooftop or an area of land that could be ideal for a solar farm, you will find that Lightsource ensure installing and maintaining solar panels is an effortless task. Many of Lightsource’s commercial clients have saved at least 20% on their energy bills since installation and farmers and landowners have gained a guaranteed second income.

If you’re looking to install hassle-free solar panels then please get in touch today.

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