Row after row of solar panels in a green field, image used for Nicholas Fainlight blog on the risks and rewards of alternative energy

Every election year, alternative energy becomes a key topic in debates and candidate platforms; however, unlike some may think, alternative energy is a topic that should be discussed year round. The term, alternative energy, is used for an energy source that is different from fossil fuels. Typically, those sources are non-traditional and have low environmental impact. Most agree that alternative energy doesn’t harm the environment, which is the key distinction between alternative energy and renewable energy.

When it comes to alternative energy sources, solar energy is one of the frontrunners for providing a clean, renewable source of energy for Earth. To clarify for those who are unfamiliar, solar energy is energy emitted by the sun in the form of light that is then absorbed by special panels that convert the light into thermal or electrical energy.

Formerly, solar energy was the most expensive form of alternative energy under consideration; however, the prices of solar panels have significantly dropped in the last several years due to companies like Tesla working round the clock to make them more affordable.

To get an idea of the risks of solar energy and investing in it, take a look at the top 2 disadvantages of this alternative energy.

#1. High Initial Costs

This is first on this list of solar energy cons because it is the first problem run into when using this energy source. Most investors agree that the larger upfront investment is the biggest downside to this source of energy.

While solar panels can be a great option for single-family homes, the highest quality panels can cost more than $1,000 each. Plus it typically takes more than one to power the home. However, the lifespan of a panel is about 20-25 years, so when compared with the prices of a traditional energy source over the span of 20 years, the results are going to be staggeringly in favor of the panels.

#2: Solar is Intermittent

One of the largest concerns about solar energy is the nighttime or days of heavy overcast. During those times, the energy absorbed is significantly decreased. There is a solution: energy storage. Like most things though, it comes at a fairly high price. This issue should soon be a thing of the past, as countries, such as Germany, are working to develop solutions to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

There are far more advantages to solar power as an alternative energy source than there are disadvantages. Of course, there are the obvious advantages, such as renewability and sustainability, but what about the lesser known ones? Take a look at the top advantages of solar energy.

#1 Greenhouse Emissions

The process of taking light and creating electrical power produces zero greenhouse emissions. Although the manufacturing part of the process may be associated with slight emissions, it is severely insignificant in comparison to other energy sources in use today.

#2 Low Maintenance

Especially in comparison to other energy sources, such as nuclear, solar energy has remarkably low maintenance requirements. Most residential panels require cleaning once or twice a year. While the upfront costs can seem like a lot at first, the particularly long life-span as well as little to no maintenance balance the investment.

When it comes to the energy of the future, solar certainly looks to be a promising alternative energy source with minimal disadvantages.