Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce electricity costs and help the environment. But before you install a solar system in your home, it's important to understand some of the common problems associated with solar panels. Delamination and internal corrosion are two of the most common issues, and can be caused by moisture getting on the panel. Faulty wiring can also prevent your solar panels from working properly.
Severe weather conditions, such as high winds, hail, or lightning, can also cause damage to the panels or electrical components. The conversion rate of solar energy into electricity is also an important factor to consider. The best and most expensive technology available can achieve a conversion rate of more than 22%, but in places like Canada and Russia, the rate is much lower due to their location. In places like Hawaii, where they have an average of 277 days a year of rain and clouds, their location at the equator is irrelevant because they simply don't have enough clear sunlight to reach the ground.
The largest solar field is located in Spain and sits on 173 acres, providing power to nearly 12,000 homes. That's 173 acres of land that can't be used for anything else, like grazing animals. According to Northwestern University's Qualitative Reasoning Group, most solar panels in people's homes convert only 14% of their available energy into energy. Even today's most efficient solar panels convert only 22% of their available energy into energy.
The highest theoretical maximum efficiency for a system that does not track the sun is only 55%. The same goes for systems that track the sun on cloudy days. Thinking about the installation area, land use by solar fields can be massive and, unlike wind energy, sharing land for agricultural uses is not an option. Solar energy also affects land use when it comes to mining and the production of the materials needed to produce photovoltaics.
Compounds found in solar panels include cadmium and lead, extremely toxic metals. A number of other toxic and hazardous materials are used in the production of solar panels, including gallium arsenide, copper-indium-gallium diselenide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and acetone. For those who worry about whether or not solar panels reduce the value of a property, you can rest assured that this is not the case; in fact, 65% of UK residents would be “likely” or “very likely” to buy a property with solar panels on the roof. However, poor connections sometimes come from weather corrosion. Properly installed solar panels shouldn't succumb to weather damage for many years, but constant intense weather conditions can accelerate degradation. A phenomenon that we regularly encounter are “microcracks” in crystalline photovoltaic panels. These are virtually imperceptible microscopic tears in solar cells.
Microcracks can occur during the production of PV modules, but also during shipping or due to careless handling practices during installation. Microcracks do not necessarily result in an immediate loss of production, by the way, but they can grow over time due to thermal stress or under the influence of seasonal and climatic conditions. Larger microcracks will damage solar cells and this will cause production losses. Damage to the contact points of the solar cell will have a particularly significant influence on the energy production of the cell. Because the panel cells are connected in series, this will also affect the output power of the entire panel. As a result, panel performance decreases in direct correlation with the number of broken cells. Multiple bus bars are often installed in more expensive panels to mitigate this problem. We have recently tested several brands of modules in different solar parks and found that on average microcracks affect a high percentage of modules resulting in a significant production loss (we have seen a 2-3% performance deficit related to microcracks).Hundreds of thousands if not millions of solar panels are being installed right now and will be discarded in 25 years. Solar panel manufacturers offer warranties of between 25 and 30 years guaranteeing production of up to 85% to 90% after that time. Because installing solar panels increases the value of your home you can also increase your property taxes. Compare that to solar water heating which transfers energy from the sun to water with up to 75% efficiency.
It seems reasonable to assume that homeowners will choose to replace solar panels soon after the warranty period rather than experiencing declining production levels especially if prices continue to fall. Not all places receive the same amount of annual sunlight and solar energy efficiency drops dramatically as you move away from the equator. Solar panels can continue to generate energy for up to 50 years with a reduction in production of 0.8% per year. What is more worrying is that solar panels contain harmful pollutants that when left exposed in a landfill drag with rain to nearby water sources and the surrounding environment. To avoid these problems it's important to ensure proper installation and maintenance of your solar system. Make sure all wiring is done correctly and check regularly for any signs of corrosion or damage due to weather conditions. It's also important to choose high quality materials when installing your system as this will help ensure it lasts longer and performs better over time.