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Domestic Solar Power – Hype Or The Way Forward?
Doubtless you will be aware that domestic solar systems have become the latest Big Thing™ – the unsolicited mail, email and phone calls that once attempted to convince you of double glazing and conservatories now all hold out the promise of FREE electricity. Just call for a FREE (suspicious already aren’t you?) no obligation survey. Even your local supermarket is in on the act with leaflets at the checkout offering their own re-branded version.
So what’s the truth behind the claims? Well the fact is that with the substantial government backing currently available, there has never been a better time to go solar. But the surprisingly large amount of money potentially on offer to ordinary households has a number of caveats attached.
For a start you or your home may not be eligible or suitable; you may not have access to the up front funds required to invest in solar energy; and there is no one prescribed route to going solar – there are many options. So let’s take at look at the world of domestic solar power…
A Quick Introduction To Solar Energy Systems
The combination of relentlessly rising energy prices and justifiable concern for the environment has led many people to consider “alternative” solutions to satisfy their energy requirements. Obviously this can be a two pronged attack; on the one hand systematically reducing energy consumption (replacing woefully inefficient incandescent lamps with LED light bulbs for instance) and on the other seeking cheaper and less environmentally damaging sources of energy (wood burning stoves being one, perhaps surprising, example).
But it doesn’t usually take too long to cotton on to the fact that the most abundant and effectively endless source of power available to this planet rises without fail from the East each and every morning. Radiation from the Sun, which we and most living things here on Earth perceive as light and warmth, sustains and powers everything, whether directly or indirectly.
We are certainly capable of surviving for a short while in the absence of sunlight, thanks of course to our technology, but it is not exactly a sustainable proposition. Sure we can even grow food in the most hostile of conditions using grow lights to mimic sunlight and enable photosynthesis in plants; but what powers those? You guessed it – oil or some other fossil fuel that itself was laid down millennia ago by primordial plant life that used sunlight to metabolize atmospheric gases.
The compelling logic then is that perhaps we should cut out the middle man and start putting all this free, limitless power more directly to work. And in that one sentence we see the seeds of the many issues that are just waiting to sprout. How exactly can we put solar power to good use? Does it really work or is it just a great idea in theory? The words “free” and “limitless” sound just a little too good to be true… and talking of middle men, why exactly are there so many, all desperately flogging solar power as if their bonuses depended on it (which they probably do)?
So, if you’re considering using solar power for all or part of your domestic energy needs then it makes sense to nail some of these issues up front.
- First of all you really ought to have a basic grasp of the technology and what it can and cannot do.
- Secondly be aware of the true costs, because solar power is not in fact free (or endless).
- And lastly, understand what is likely to be involved if you do choose to go solar.
You should then be in a reasonable position to decide whether or not solar power is the right choice for you. So first up, a bit of a science lesson…
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