Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Solar energy has advantages and disadvantages.

The free, unlimited resource would appear an attractive power generation option for any Latin American country looking to add capacity or diversify its power matrix.

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Indeed, installed solar capacity in the region is growing. Latin America passed the 1GW of installed solar capacity mark in 2015 as developers power ahead with new projects, particularly in countries like Chile, an attractive solar market.

Renewable energy supplied more than 10% of Chile's total power generation in August, according to state renewable energies center Cifes.

In addition, costs for key components, such as panels for photovoltaic solar plants, are falling, and Latin American countries are developing policies to promote renewables in a bid to increase energy security, diversity their energy mixes and avoid potential social and economic opposition that large-scale thermal or hydropower projects tend to generate.

Chile, for example, is betting heavily on non-conventional renewable energy resources such as solar, and the country plans to be generating 20% of power from the sources by 2025.

Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

Advantages of solar energy include the following:

  • Solar energy is free and abundant
  • Solar panels do not produce CO2 in generating electricity
  • Solar plant running-costs are relatively low
  • Component costs are falling

Disadvantages of solar energy include the following:

  • Photovoltaic solar plants, the most popular kind, do not provide a steady flow of electricity 24 hours a day
  • Providing storage such as banks of batteries is not yet seen as being commercially feasible
  • Although costs are falling, solar plants are still relatively expensive to build.
  • Solar plants require a lot of space

* Other stories, as well as analysis and features, on solar energy in Latin America.

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