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The Truth is Bright: Top 10 Solar Power Myths Debunked
- There is a lot of misinformation online about the renewable energy industry. By sharing accurate information, we can help spread the message of how important solar power is and what a difference it can make to improving the environment.
- It is a common misconception that solar panels can’t operate during cloudy days. It’s also wrong to assume that solar power systems devalue property prices or require lots of maintenance once installed.
- Some facts are a little more difficult to spot, like solar panels being able to provide power during a blackout. As great as this sounds, a battery storage solution also needs to be installed to provide backup during blackouts.
Solar power is a popular subject that’s widely circulated in the news and throughout various social media networks. It’s also made its way into everyday conversations between friends and even business partners. But have you ever wondered if everything you’ve heard is true? Unfortunately, it can be hard to distinguish between wishful thinking and genuine scientific facts.
There is so much misinformation spread across the web about the renewable energy industry. If you are someone that takes the environment seriously, you will want to make sure what you read is accurate. From the myth that it is more damaging to the environment to manufacture solar panels to the proven benefits of installing a home solar system, there are many conflicting voices out there. As a result, it can be challenging to know what to believe and what to dismiss.
It is high time some of the myths are confronted. Accurate information will help spread the message of how important solar power is and what a difference it can make in combating climate change. Here are the top 10 solar power myths explained.
Myth 1: Solar panels take more power to make than they can generate
True or False? False – Solar panels produce significantly more electricity in their lifetime than the energy required to build them.
This is a myth that has been making the rounds for many years. The funniest thing is that the more this incorrect idea is circulated, the more false it becomes over time. Solar power technology is advancing at an impressive rate, and manufacturing improvements make solar panels more efficient to produce than ever before.
The Renewable Energy Hub UK found that as solar panels have an expected life span of 25 years (even in regions where the sun’s radiation is received at less than 550kWh per m2), a typical solar panel takes around six years to pay back its energy cost. However, the hub also concludes that a standard solar panel will save over 900kg of CO2 per year, resulting in a carbon payback period of 1.6 years.
Myth 2: Solar panels cannot operate on cloudy days
True or False? False – Solar panels will still generate energy wherever there is sunlight, albeit less efficiently during overcast days.
Even when the weather is cloudy and the temperatures are lower, solar panels will still generate electricity. If the clouds completely blocked out every trace of sunlight, we would be shrouded by darkness every time the sun was covered. The extent of the sun that is blocked is also down to the sort of clouds that cover the sky.
In these conditions, the solar panels may not be as efficient as they are on clear days, as the clouds tend to filter the available sunlight before it reaches the solar panels. Even so, they will not stop working entirely. Instead, solar production may take place at a reduced level on overcast days.
Myth 3: Solar panels are pricey, and it’s difficult to cover the costs
True or False? False – There are many incentives and solar schemes available in various countries. Solar energy systems are now the most cost-effective they have ever been.
Many governments have set up incentives, schemes, and programs to bring down the upfront cost of solar power systems. The types of incentives available will depend on where you live; some are regionally-run programs and others are nationwide schemes. The programs typically offer a battery storage solution too, which means you can save energy and sell it back to the main grid when possible.
When the solar power system is connected to the grid (subject to your electricity usage and system capacity), it is expected that full payback can be achieved between three to five years.
Myth 4: Solar panels can provide backup power during a blackout
True or False? False – As great as it would be, solar panels alone can not deliver electricity for your home or business during a blackout.
If you are searching for a power backup when there are blackouts or main grid disruptions, a battery storage solution will also need to be installed. Solar batteries often do not provide backup power due to the safety risks involved in doing so. For example, when there is a blackout, engineers will work directly on the grid. This means that if solar panels or batteries are in operation, there is a risk that the engineer could be electrocuted by the solar power being generated.
The majority of solar panels and batteries are connected to the main grid, but it is possible to have a blackout power function. This can be available as a standard feature of a battery, but it does require a bit of extra work during the system set-up process. However, it is well worth the additional hassle if you live in an area where power cuts are a common occurrence.
Myth 5: Installing solar panels on a home can reduce utility bills
True or False? True – Yes, the power generated by a solar panel system can reduce energy bills. However, it is dependent on how you use the power generated by your solar panels. You will not save money in the act of installing solar panels alone.
The amount of money you will save on utility bills will be down to how you choose to use the solar energy you have access to. For example, suppose you run the washing machine or dishwasher during the day when the solar panels are producing the most power. In that case, your electricity needs at night should be reduced, and any grid-connected costs should also come down.
If you use your solar energy supply smartly, you may also be able to sell any surplus solar energy that you don’t use during the day back to the central grid. This is often done through a utility credit, which is an opportunity to further reduce your energy bills. To become even less dependent on the energy grid and save money in the future, you may want to contemplate installing a battery to your solar panel system.
Myth 6: Integrating solar technology into your home will devalue the property price
True or False? False – The value of a property will not decrease because it has a solar power system. It could even entice potential buyers and increase its worth.
There are many people out there that are environmentally minded – and even more who like to save money. Therefore, it is no surprise that a house powered by solar panels is a desirable selling point. A solar panel and battery system can help bring down utility bills, which most people will see as a cause for celebration. When it comes to selling homes, you can almost approach investing in a solar power system with the same mindset as remodelling your kitchen – it will most likely add value.
Myth 7: The building does not use electricity much during the day, so solar panels are not worth it
True or False? False – There are still many benefits to a solar power system, either through battery storage, a solar feed-in tariff, or having appliances on timers to be used during high solar energy generation times.
Similar to fact number five, the benefits of having free solar electricity generated during the day will be reliant on how you are optimising self-consumption. There are many ways you can help reduce energy usage at night, such as:
- Setting up timers so that your washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher come on during the day.
- Choosing to charge battery-powered devices or appliances, such as phones, tablets, laptops, or rechargeable vacuum cleaners during the day.
- Running any air conditioner units on a timer so that your home is heated or cooled as it is required throughout the day (as a temperature control measure). As a result, less energy will be needed in the evening when you get back home.
With battery storage, you could, again, reduce the amount of central grid electricity needed and generate enough solar energy to offset both the day and night-time power usage.
Myth 8: Solar panels need constant maintenance and care
True or False? False – Apart from a simple dusting every few months, solar panels are mostly maintenance-free.
It is, of course, important to look after the solar panel system and keep it well maintained. It is not, however, a particularly pain-staking or frequent task. The simplest way to maintain solar panels is to make sure they stay clear of any dirt and debris and try to keep sources of shade to a minimum.
Myth 9: There is no tangible difference between a Tier 1 solar panel and a Tier 2 or 3 solar panel
True or False? False – There is a markable difference that sets Tier 1 solar panels apart from others. A Tier 1 solar panel is the mark given to trustworthy manufacturers with a positive reputation for performance and reliability.
In the solar panel industry, panels are available for purchase in a variety of different qualities, and they are ranked into three tiers. This solar panel tier system is recognised internationally and is part of the effort to create an overview for consumers and investors.
Solar panel manufacturers awarded a Tier 1 status are brands that have a known reputation for performance and quality. These solar energy companies invest substantial amounts of money into research and development. They have often also been in the industry for many years.
However affordable solar panels have become, it is still worth doing your research and investing in solar equipment which is high quality. Checking out the manufacturer’s tier rating is an excellent way to determine which solar panel manufacturers can be trusted.
Myth 10: Solar power will increase the cost of electricity for those without solar panels
True or False? False – Solar power could do the opposite as it helps reduce the peak demand on the electricity network, which essentially relieves some of the stress from the national grid.
As the world population grows, there is a greater demand for electricity. This means there is a need for more extensive transmission lines, grid upgrades, and new thermal generators. These massive infrastructures are incredibly costly, and these expenses are passed on to the electricity consumers.
As there is so much surplus solar power being generated from rooftop solar panels, these projects are lowering the need for large transmission and network expansions. In some locations where the concentration of homes with installed solar systems is very high (such as Australia), the excess solar energy can raise the grid voltage, which can, in turn, shut down solar inverters. This is where, again, a battery system can be very beneficial.
There are many exciting facts about solar energy, and although some of what you come across may be exaggerated, many are true. By cross-checking information and using some common sense, solar power myths can be spotted. So keep reading and educating yourself on developing solar power technology, and you will soon be a solar mastermind.
Are all solar energy facts on the internet true?
As with most ‘facts’ found on the internet, you need to check your sources to make sure the information is reliable. Unfortunately, misinformation is abundant online, and it can be tough to spot the truth from exaggerated content which has been created for entertainment value. If you are ever unsure, double-check the information and see what other reputable publications are reporting.
How to spot a solar power myth?
A good starting place is to check the content itself and identify any pieces of information that seem too good to be true (or inconsistent with what you have read before). If it seems overblown, dramatic, or lacking credible evidence, it is also a sign that the information may not be trustworthy.
Are there any proven solar facts that might sound too good to be true?
Solar energy is advancing at a fantastic rate, making the technology behind modern solar panel systems pretty remarkable. For this reason, there may be some eye-opening facts you read that are not solar power myths at all. For example:
- As of 2017, Solar power is the cheapest source of energy in the world.
- Solar energy users save up to 35 tons of carbon dioxide and 75 million barrels of oil each year.
- 174,000 terawatts of energy consistently strike the earth (in the form of solar radiation), even on the cloudiest of days.
Why are there conflicting facts about who invented solar technology?
The main reason why some publications may differ when it comes to who should be credited for having invented solar power is due to the number of scientists who contributed to its development. There is much debate, and it often comes down to personal opinion. So, it is up to you whether you credit Edmond Becquerel, Charles Fritts, the team at Bell Labs, or any of the other talented scientists contributing to solar technology as the rightful inventor of solar power.
What are the top three facts about Canadian solar power?
There are many exciting facts about Canadian solar power. However, here are three to spark your interest:
- Canada has more than 138 solar PV farms with a capacity of at least 1 MW, totalling over 1,700 MW nationwide (NRC).
- The biggest solar power project in Canada is currently in progress in Alberta, which will generate enough electricity to power 100,000 homes when operational.
- There are more than 43,000 solar energy installations across Canada (CREA).