As a relatively new technology, solar photovoltaic has come under fire from people who don’t fully understand it. People insist using solar energy to make electricity is too expensive and will therefore never be successful. However, many of the things you might think about solar are misleading. At Clean Footprint, we believe in the solar revolution and we are here to show you just how beneficial solar can be by clearing up some of the myths about the solar world.
Myth #1: Solar is always expensive
Yes, solar can be expensive if you want to buy all the technology needed for your own array. However, there are many financing solutions that can help you combat the high upfront cost of solar.
One such financing solution is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). With a PPA there is no initial investment required from the client. The solar company covers all the costs associated with installing and maintaining the solar array. The client simply pays for the electricity generated by the array.
Additionally, there are many state and federal incentives and rebates that help to cut the upfront cost of installing solar. One rebate in particular is the 30% investment tax credit (ITC). The ITC essentially refunds up to 30% of the upfront cost of installing the solar array.
Myth #2: Solar is ugly
While this is a matter of personal opinion, solar panels are becoming more aesthetically pleasing. Also, many arrays located on large buildings with flat roofs cannot be seen from the ground. Even if the solar array can be seen, it adds a new dimension to the building. Solar can help a building stand out from others and even from the competition. Customers might even be intrigued by the solar array or respect the environmental stewardship it represents resulting in more traffic and more customers. Here are a few interesting solar arrays:
(Photos, clockwise from top: solar carport at Plantronics, solar on the roof of Birmingham Airport, solar array in Spain, solar panels on the side of a school in LA)
Myth #3: Solar has to be installed on a roof facing south
Solar can be installed on a roof and it can be installed facing south. However, solar can also be installed on the ground, on the side of a building, as covered parking, on top of a parking garage, and even on top of an outside canopy to provide shade. The location depends on the needs of the buyer.
In addition, solar can be facing in any direction. Generally panels are installed facing south because it optimizes the solar absorption when located north of the equator. As a general rule, the latitude of the location where solar is to be installed determines the tilt of the solar array to maximize sunlight. For example, a solar array installed at 30˚ latitude should ideally be tilted at a 30˚ angle. However, this is simply a guideline. Solar can also be installed to track the sunlight from east to west during the day.
Myth #4: Solar only works in warm, sunny places
Believe it or not, but some of the most successful solar states are in the north – where the weather can be cloudy, rainy, snowy and sometimes very cold. Although this is largely due to state policy and incentives, it proves that solar power can work just as well in the cold north as it can in the warm south. It is a misconception that solar panels only work in sunny, warm places. In fact, many solar panels actually become more efficient in cooler climates. Monocrystalline solar panels tend to perform better in warmer climates, while polycrystalline performs better in cooler weather.
As far as clouds are concerned, most of the time UV rays are still able to shine through the clouds, meaning that solar panels can still convert the sunlight into electricity. There is also a distinction between ambient and direct sunlight. Some solar panels are more efficient in ambient lighting, for example on cloudy days. These types of panels can be beneficial in areas of the US that have more cloudy/rainy days than sunny days.
Some misconceptions about solar lead people to think that solar is not a good source of energy. However, it can provide a building with cheap, renewable, clean electricity, no matter where the building is located.
Eliza is the Chief Learning Officer for Clean Footprint. As the Chief Learning Officer, she is responsible for writing and editing blogs, e-books, videos and white papers as well as other learning content created for Clean Footprint’s developer partners and clients. Eliza attended New York University in Paris, France and studied Global Liberal Studies before moving to Florida and joining the Clean Footprint team. She also studied Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Central Florida.