What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy?

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy?

With the sunniest April on record and the highest ever production of solar power1 in the UK it comes as little surprise that solar is one of the world’s fastest growing energy technologies today.

Following a month of Britain going coal-free2 and relying more on the power of renewables it’s important to understand what renewables are and how homeowners could benefit.  

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is a source of renewable energy that we can use to power our homes, businesses and communities. With new storage methods and greater solar energy capacity in the UK increasing3, there are many reasons why you should consider generating your own electricity with solar.

Here are some details on how solar energy works and the pros and cons of this renewable energy source, so you can decide whether it's the right choice for you and your home.

How does solar energy work?

Solar energy is generated from solar PV (photovoltaic) panels installed on homes, buildings and solar farms across the world. They all essentially use the same technology to turn daylight into energy.

Each solar panel is made up of small solar cells that turn the daylight into electric current, which feed through an inverter into your home or other premises to power your lights and appliances. And what's more, you don't need to use the energy as soon as it's generated. The energy generated in the daytime can be stored in solar batteries so that you can keep on using the power whenever you need it, even once the sun has set.

There's a misconception that solar panels only work in full sunshine, and while sunnier days will generate more power than cloudy ones, solar panels will create electricity during all daylight hours whatever the weather.

What can solar power be used for in the home?

  • Providing electricity Solar PV panels can generate the electricity you need to light your home and power your appliances. If you make your home more energy efficient at the same time as installing your solar energy system, you could find that your solar panels provide the bulk of your electricity needs.
  • Charging electric cars - If you have a hybrid or electric vehicle, you can use the energy generated by your solar panels to charge your car at home.

What are the advantages of solar energy?

There are many advantages to powering your home with solar energy:

  • Reduce your electricity costs - By generating your own power through solar panels, you can cut your annual electricity bill by up to £400. Plus, if you generate more power than you use, you can earn money by selling it back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint – Solar power is a source of clean energy so using it to power your home will mean you're contributing to the UK achieving its carbon reduction goals - a vital step in helping to combat climate change. Cutting your carbon footprint will also mean you're helping to protect wildlife habitats, communities and economies that are threatened by a warming climate.
  • A renewable source of energy - As well as helping to combat climate change, renewable energies like solar also help to reduce air pollution, which is one of the biggest challenges we're facing globally.
  • Easy to install – Solar panels can easily be installed on your roof. It will usually take only a day or so for your home to be up and running on solar energy. But it's important to remember that the tilt and direction of your roof will have an impact on how much energy you can expect to get from your panels. With a range of systems available we can help you optimise your solar system to best match your needs.

Are there any potential disadvantages of solar energy?

While there are obviously many environmental and monetary benefits to installing solar energy in your home, there are also some factors to consider before making your decision:

  • Affordability – While having solar energy helps to reduce your electricity bill, you'll have to make the initial investment in the purchase and installation of the panels. At E.ON, we want to make going clean that little bit easier, so we have a range of payment options to suit you, including 0% interest finance plans4 to help spread the cost.
  • Weather dependency – Solar PV systems reach maximum efficiency when it's sunny. So although solar PV systems will still generate electricity on cloudy days, you'll get the maximum benefits on days of full sunshine.
  • Aesthetics – Many people think they don’t like how panels look on their roof but with new designs like integrated panels, you won’t be able to tell the difference. With sleek, black-on-black modern panels now available; in-roof panels no longer sit on top roof tiles, they fit in with the roof tiles so they blend in, looking more natural.
  • Every house is different – Due to trees or shading around your property detailed surveys can be carried out in advance to ensure the right solar package for your home including making sure it’s monitored and optimised for the best solar self-generation.

Solar energy can help your home to become greener, more sustainable and lower carbon while also cutting your electricity bills.

Powering your home with solar panels is better for the environment than using fossil fuels and can reduce your reliance on the grid. By also installing battery storage technology, you can maximise the full benefits of your solar panels by using the energy you generate when it best suits you. This means you’ll import less electricity from the grid, saving you money on your energy bills and allowing you to have power regardless of grid interruptions or outages.

Renewable energy is increasingly popular as we move towards living more sustainable lives, and solar and battery is right at the heart of this sustainable energy future.

1. Source: bbc.co.uk/news/business-51799503

2. Source: edie.net/news/6/UK-hits-coal-free-month-/

3. Source: gov.uk/government/statistics/solar-photovoltaics-deployment

4. E.ON Energy Installation Services Limited acts as a credit broker and not a lender and work exclusively with Creation Consumer Finance Ltd who acts as the lender. Credit subject to status, terms and conditions apply and can be found at eonenergy.com/solar, E.ON reserves the right to amend its finance offering at any time and may withdraw at short notice. E.ON Energy Installation Services Limited is registered in England and Wales under company number 09965944 with its registered office at Westwood Way, Westwood Business Park, Coventry, CV4 8LG. E.ON Energy Installation Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to credit broking services under number 750410. Terms and Conditions apply