Benefits of solar energy
While a majority of the world's current electricity supply is generated from fossil fuel such as coal, oil and natural gas, these traditional energy sources face a number of challenges including rising prices, security concerns over dependence on imports from a limited number of countries which have significant fossil fuel supplies, and growing environmental concerns over the climate challenges facing traditional energy sources, governments, businesses and consumers are increasingly supporting the development of alternative energy sources and new technologies for electricity generation. Renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric and wind power generation have emerged as potential alternatives which address some of these concerns. As opposed to fossil fuels, which draw on finite resources that may eventually become too expensive to retrieve, renewable energy sources are generally unlimited in availability.
Solar power generations has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing renewable sources of electricity. Solar power generation has several advantages over other forms of electricity generation:
Reduced dependence on fossil fuels: Solar energy production does not require fossil fuels and is therefore less dependent on this limited and expensive natural resource. Althought there is variability in the amount and timing of sunlight over the day, season and year, a properly sized and configured system can be designed to be highly reliable while providing long term, fixed price electricity supply.
Environmental Advantages: Solar power production generates electricity with a limited impact on the environment as compared to other forms of electricity production.
Matching peak time output with peak time demand: Solar energy can effectively supplement electricity supply from an electricity transmission grid, such as when electricity demand peaks in the summer.
Modularity and scalability: As the size and generating capacity of a solar system are a function of the number of solar module installed, applications of solar technology are readily scalable and versatile.
Flexible locations: Solar power production facilities can be installed at the costumer site which reduces required investments in production and transportation infrastructure.
Government incentives: A growing number of countries have established incentive programs for the development of solar and other renewable energy sources, such as (i) net metering law that allow on-grid end users to sell electricity back to the grid at retail prices, (ii) direct subsidies to end user to offset cost of photovoltaic equipment and installations charges, (iii) low interest loans for financing solar power system and tax incentives; and (iv) government standards that mandate minimum usage of renewable energy sources.
Stand-alone photovoltaic systems produce power independently of the utility grid. In some off-the grid locations even one half kilometre from power lines, stand-alone photovoltaic systems can be more cost-effective than extending power lines. They are especially appropriate for remote environmentally sensitive areas, such as national parks, cabins and remote homes.