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Myths and Facts About Solar Energy: An Informative Guide

2023-12-20

Myths and Facts About Solar Energy: An Informative Guide

There is much written and said about solar energy, and not all of it is true. Some information falls into the realm of myths and legends, both positive and negative. The energy sector is a hot topic of public discussion, and these debates don't always take place against the backdrop of scientific knowledge. Much is opinion, and often these opinions turn into myths about solar energy. In the following, some of the most significant myths about solar energy will be confronted with facts.

Debunking the Most Common Myths About Solar Energy

Many existing myths have their origins in the early days of solar technology. This includes the belief that solar technology is too expensive and, therefore, not profitable, that it only makes sense in sunny areas, that solar panels are environmentally harmful, that the technology is too complicated and unreliable, that solar energy is only for homeowners, that it's for enthusiasts and eco-freaks and not effective, and that solar energy cannot replace conventional energy sources. The ones mentioned are the most common prejudices against solar energy. Besides information from the early days of solar technology, these myths often originate from interest groups that have an interest in preventing the widespread adoption of solar energy.

To dispel misunderstandings or confirm myths about solar panels, we will scrutinize each myth.

Let's start with costs. The claim is that solar technology is too expensive. Well, looking back to the development around the year 1880 and considering that the efficiency of a solar cell was around 1-2 percent, this argument holds. However, today, any system for which you pay no more than 1,800 euros per kilowatt peak is profitable. The next myth is that solar installations are only suitable for sunny regions. This is also incorrect. Solar installations work even in cloudy weather or in cold areas. The yield may be slightly lower, but given the now low installation costs compared to the yield and the high electricity prices from the public grid, a solar installation is still worthwhile in our latitudes.

The next point concerns the statement that the technology is too complicated and unreliable. To be precise, there is hardly any energy extraction technology that is simpler and more reliable. A solar installation has no moving parts, and the technology consists only of the solar panels, the inverter, and the wiring. Maintenance is limited to checking the cables, connectors, and panel cleanliness. Geothermal energy is more reliable due to its weather independence and relatively simple technology, but it is more expensive.

Is solar technology only for homeowners? Here we must say: not anymore. The current federal government has decided that even tenants of apartments or houses should have the right to produce solar energy. They have the right to install a so-called small or balcony system. The regulations are straightforward and easy for everyone to implement. Landlords can no longer prohibit these systems, but they have some say, and tenants also have a few things to consider.

Scientifically Supported Facts About Solar Energy

A very exciting and widely debated topic in the public is whether solar technology can replace conventional methods of electricity generation. Statista has published figures on the topic, illustrating the rapid increase in the capacity of solar installations since the year 2000. In 2000, only 1,000 megawatts peak were installed; by 2010, it had risen to 17,300 MWp, and in 2020, it reached 52,000 MWp. As of 2023, it had already reached 70,600 MWp. According to the Federal Network Agency, 12.1 percent of the total electricity demand is currently covered by renewable energies. To cover the entire electricity demand, additional solar installations with a total capacity of 2.2 million MWp would need to be installed. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) confirms that total electricity production with renewable energies is possible, but solar energy alone cannot cover it.

How Solar Energy Really Works: Technology and Potential

One of the advantages of solar energy, as hinted at, is the simple technical structure and the straightforward operation of solar installations. The functioning of a solar installation can be explained most simply with a balcony system. Such a system is typically bought as a plug-and-play system. It consists of one or two solar panels, an inverter, and wiring. The panel is oriented at a specific angle and is connected to the inverter via a plug connection. The solar panel captures solar energy and converts it into direct current. This direct current is forwarded to the inverter, where it is converted into alternating current and fed into the household power circuit via a plug that can be inserted into a standard socket. What works on a small scale also works on a larger scale and under different conditions on a larger scale, such as a roof system or a commercial large-scale system. The potential of a solar installation in practice in the private sector is only limited by the available space. The rule is: the larger the system, the higher the degree of self- sufficiency.

The Future of Solar Energy: Separating Fiction from Reality

Over the past two decades, solar technology has played an increasingly prominent role and will significantly strengthen this role in the coming decades. The potential of open spaces worldwide for the installation of solar installations is gigantic, and the problems of climate change and environmental pollution, as well as the need for environmentally friendly production processes, make solar energy an essential pillar of today's and future energy production.

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