Myths about solar energy

Myth #1. Solar power doesn’t generate enough electricity.

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Solar energy is now mainstream. Solar contributes substantially to electricity grids around the world. Globally, solar installations grew by nearly 30 percent last year and the industry is on an upward trend. Texas, Colorado and other U.S. states have successfully integrated solar and other renewables to the point that more than 50 percent of electricity can be provided from renewable sources.

Myth #2. Solar energy is expensive.

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Not anymore. Like any technology once it hits the market, prices go down. Solar has become very affordable. Costs of solar technology have fallen dramatically — by 80 percent since 2007 — and are expected to become even cheaper. In sunny places electricity generated from solar is becoming cheaper than that from other sources.

Myth #3. Solar energy only works when the sun shines.

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Not so. Solar energy can be a reliable energy source even when it is cloudy and in winter, as long as there is some sunlight. And electricity generated in businesses and homes may be sent to power grids in return for energy credits, paid back as the users draw from the grid after the sun goes down. Electricity also may be stored off the grid. Storage technologies are becoming increasingly efficient, with larger storage capacities.

Myth #4. Solar panels are high maintenance.solar_maintenance_myth

On the contrary, there are no moving parts to repair and solar panels are durable and long-lasting. Hail storms pose no problem. Most companies offer 25-30- year warranties because solar panels are so low-maintenance and reliable.

Myth #5. Solar energy isn’t good for business.

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Solar energy has become cost-competitive with coal and other polluting energy resources. That’s one reason 2015 saw installed solar capacity increase 16 percent over 2014. The Solar Energy Industry Association says solar is growing at a record pacein the United States. California dominates the U.S. solar market, but other states are accelerating solar installations, notably Massachusetts, New York and Texas.

Myth #6. Solar energy needs complicated storage systems.

Illustration of the sun in a corked jar.While batteries can be used off the electricity grid to store power – and storage battery capacities are increasing all the time—most electricity produced by the sun goes to the grid. Many power companies purchase solar-generated electricity from business and residential consumers, electricity that may be used immediately. It is added to energy generated from all sources, available any time from the grid. New storage technologies such as concentrated solar power are being launched, too, to provide large-scale solar energy storage on-site at solar thermal projects.

Myth #7. Solar panels are ugly.

Illustration of the sun looking at itself in a mirror.
Once upon a time solar meant bulky and unsightly, but not any more. Newer, lighter, thinner — and cheaper—photovoltaic (PV) films and coatings have been developed that can blend with architectural elements. Latest-generation PV tech can be applied strategically to catch the sun — on roof shingles, walls and the surfaces of vehicles, for example.

And a few facts…

  • Solar energy is creating lots of new jobs. In the United States alone more than 200,000 jobs are in the solar industry – three times more than in coal. That figure is set to double by 2020.
  • Widespread use of solar energy will dramatically reduce air pollution — harmful local particulate pollutants and greenhouse gases — providing health and economic benefits. Solar technology can electrify remote and low-income communities without expensive grid infrastructure. All reasons why the Chinese, Indian and U.S. governments, to name three among many, are investing heavily in solar technologies.
  • Expanded use of solar and other renewable energy resources is essential to meet climate goals of keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.