PV systems have many advantages:Image Fewer blackouts—PV systems are less likely than other sources of electricity to suffer power failures. This makes PV systems popular in healthcare settings.Image Low operations and maintenance cost—Most of the financial cost of PV systems is in the initial equipment cost. Properly designed and installed PV systems have low operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. This makes systems more cost-effective with a greater return on investment (ROI).Image Increased efficiency at high altitudes—PV systems have increased efficiency at high altitudes because they receive more solar radiation. In contrast, diesel and other generators suffer decreased output where the air is thin.Of course, nothing is without some disadvantage. Commonly cited disadvantages of PV systems include the following:Image Initial expense—PV systems are expensive to purchase and install.
However, most PV users find that the cost is recuperated in energy savings in five to 10 years.Image Energy conservation practices—A conservative attitude regarding energy use must be adopted to realize greater financial savings. Lower levels of energy waste results in the need for a smaller and less-expensive PV system.The most frequently cited concerns about PV power include initial cost, energy storage, and solar resource variability. PV design includes batteries or a connection to the grid. This gives the owner power at night and during cloudy days.Many owners who connect their system to the grid take advantage of net metering. This allows owners to take power from and give power to the grid. We will discuss net metering in more detail later in this text. You can also use batteries to store excess power for use at night or during cloudy days. Batteries increase the initial equipment price, however.
Weather and other environmental conditions have a significant effect on the PV system’s output. There are many considerations when designing and installing a solar energy system.There are some safety and environmental issues regarding PV systems. You should understand that properly manufactured, designed, and installed PV systems are safer for people and the environment.Some argue that PV systems take a large amount of power to create. This depends on the manufacturing process. Advances in solar technologies have created PV systems that make much more power than is used to create them. They usually replace the energy spent to create them in three to five years. Often PV manufacturers use their own products to power the plants.