Renewable energy - it's important to find the right compromise

Solar panels can divide opinion when it comes to them being installed in the countryside. Picture credit: Andreas Gucklhorn on Unsplash

Where do your thoughts lie when it comes to solar power?

At face value, solar panels appear to be a good thing as they harness the power of the sun to create electricity and all for limited involvement with the actual process - once they are installed, they mainly just keep working.

They don’t create emissions when they are doing the job they are designed to do, so they are not adding to climate change.

On the downside, they are not as efficient in production of electricity when the weather is cloudy, and that is quite a regular situation in the UK, and of course, they don’t work at night.

Where should they be installed?

There is also a debate about where solar panels are placed.

Some advocates back their use of rooftops and there has been plenty of encouragement for this type of development. When a roof has all the right attributes, such as it will support the structures involved and points in the right direction to maximise the efficiency of the panels, there is a strong justification for them to be installed.

Solar panels placed on rooftops are out of the way but more difficult to maintain. Picture credit: Benjamin Jopen on Unsplash

But maintaining their efficiency is important to help maximise the return on you get from the panels, with one important aspect being to keep them clean.

If dirt is allowed to build up on the panels, it absorbs some of the light which will inhibit the energy production - so you need to get out there on a regular basis to keep the dirt levels to a minimum. 

And of course, that is not so easy when they are on top of the house - and that is one of the advantages of having fields with solar panels arrays in them. 

Field level solar panels are easier to get to but some oppose the idea due to the way they look. Picture credit: Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

With the panels installed at low levels, so it is far easier to maintain their efficiency with them being in easy reach keep them clean on a regular basis.

But the downside to this is that, do people really want to see fields that have been filled with solar panels that go as far as the eye can see.

Such installations have to go through a rigorous planning process before installation and but the overall effect is not always seen as an attractive one.

And while sheep may safely graze on the grass that surrounds many installations, there are those that argue that using agricultural land for energy inhibits food production so more may need to be imported, extending food miles and adding to emissions and so to climate change.

Compromises will always need to be made

There are pros and cons to the idea of using this technology to generate power. Solar panels harvest the energy of the sun, but they are not necessarily attractive. They can be installed on low grade land but they need sunny days to get the most out of them. Many houses are suitable for them to be added in some measure but rooftop installations are difficult to maintain.

As with anything, it’s not a straightforward situation - there are arguments on both sides, but to my mind, it should be possible to harness solar energy to help us cut back on the use of fossil fuels - it’s just a question of finding the right places to compromise.

A home installation of solar panels can help reduce your electricity bills. Picture credit: Vivint Solar on Unsplash

Further reading:

You can find out more about solar panels at websites such as Greenmatch

Leave a comment