Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy in the UK (2023)

Between 2004 and 2020, the European Union’s share of renewable energy more than doubled reaching 22.1% in 2020, up from just 9.6% in 2004. In the United Kingdom, reliance on solar energy has also been steadily climbing for over a decade, in large part due to the government’s numerous benefits and tax advantage programs. For example, in 2019 there were over 8,900 energy systems replaced by solar systems under the government’s renewable heat incentive.

Why are so many businesses, governments and private citizens turning to solar energy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy? How does a solar energy storage system work?

In this blog, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of solar power, specific benefits, how solar panel systems work and why solar energy is increasingly becoming more and more popular across the UK.

Table of contents:

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power
  • Pros of Solar Energy
  • Disadvantages of Solar Energy
  • Pros and Cons of Solar Panels
  • Benefits of Solar Panels
  • Disadvantages of Solar Panels
  • How Does Solar Energy Work: Step-by-step
  • Make the Best Decision with Renogy

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power

In 2019, there were over 1,000,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems counted in the UK. It’s no secret that solar energy is growing in popularity across England, Ireland and Scotland. If you are pondering whether or not solar is a good energy option for you, your home or your business, it’s best to analyse the advantages and disadvantages it provides.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy in the UK (1)

In the following section, we dive deep into all of the pros and cons of solar energy to help you form a more in-depth understanding of this extremely popular renewable energy source. No need to wonder what are the benefits of solar energy anymore – we have you covered.

By the way, we also have another article telling you the 10 common myths about solar power.

Pros of Solar Energy

Leveraging the power of a solar power system provides users with numerous advantages, and contrary to popular belief solar power does not require 24/7 sunlight to work. Below is a high-level overview of the energy source’s primary benefits:

● Lowered electric bills and utility costs

(Video) Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

● Positive impact on the global environment and climate change

● Numerous applications beyond residential use

● Reduced cost of maintenance

● Long-term cost savings

● Continued advancement of technology for more efficient residential solar energy systems

As one of the top forms of sustainable energy available, solar power provides users with a host of unique advantages over traditional forms of energy (such as electricity).

Benefits of Solar Energy to the Environment

Apart from the financial benefits that solar offers, the environmental benefits are huge – lowered greenhouse gas emissions, the ability to generate power even on cloudy days and lower reliance on foreign energy sources such as gas or oil. Lowering the emission of greenhouse gases is one of the top ways to combat climate change, and replacing widely used energy sources such as coal or natural gas with solar power can dramatically impact not just your local region’s environment but the entire globe.

Economic Benefits of Solar Energy

In the past, solar panel installations could only be done by well-off homeowners or businesses with a surplus of funds – this is no longer the case. Solar energy is the most affordable it has ever been, and the cost of installing, maintaining and upgrading solar panel systems is consistently dropping year over year. Here are some of the top ways that solar energy can provide users with financial benefits:

● Dramatically lowered utility and energy bills

● Long-term and short-term cost savings

(Video) Pros & Cons of Solar Panels (Watch this video before you invest) │GreenMatch

● Government-sponsored tax rebates and incentive programs

● Ability to generate an increase in home or property value

For homeowners, the potential of solar power lowering their utility bills (or removing them completely) is a major draw and one of the primary reasons why the energy source has grown in popularity in recent years. And, by using a lithium ion solar battery or solar generator, users can efficiently store the power generated by their panel system for later use, greatly lowering their reliance on the power grid and thereby lowering utility bills even further.

Another often overlooked benefit is the fact that homes with solar panels typically sell much faster than homes without them, and in some cases can increase the property value of the home altogether. In fact, in the UK, properties that have installed solar panel systems can sell up to 20% quicker than other properties.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

There are multiple significant benefits of solar energy, but solar is not a perfect energy source and there are several considerations to keep in mind before investing in a system or buying solar panels for your property. For example, although the cost of solar panel systems has dramatically lowered over the past decade, startup costs can still be a potential drawback for users, especially those with lower income levels. Here are some of the other potential disadvantages of solar energy to consider:

● Depending on the type of panels, battery and system you install, efficiency can be a problem. Generally speaking, the lower the quality (and price) of a system, the less efficient it will be. This is why startup costs can be a dealbreaker for some homeowners – getting the most cost savings often requires investing in better hardware.

● Weather dependence is another potential issue. Even though solar has grown in popularity across the UK, many homeowners often doubt its ability to generate enough power with the region’s often cloudy and gloomy weather. The good news is that solar panels can still generate power even on cloudy days, but top efficiency won’t be reached if the weather isn’t favourable to the system.

● Solar panel systems operate at their best when coupled with a battery storage system. Batteries and their associated hardware can be expensive, sometimes even more than the panels themselves. In order for homeowners and business owners to get the most out of their systems and lower their reliance on the national power grid, it’s recommended to purchase an accompanying battery storage system – these can add to the upfront costs and maintenance expenses.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels

Solar panels are the primary piece of hardware required to harness the power of the sun, and just like solar energy in general, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to consider before purchasing panels for your home, business or property.

Benefits of Solar Panels

The benefits of solar panels and energy are extensive, and one of the more overlooked aspects of solar is how it is a more reliable and steady form of energy compared to grid-supplied electricity or other resources. The cost of energy is constantly rising and often depends on the movement of global markets, supply and demand or price fluctuations – solar energy mitigates these rising and ever-changing costs by putting control back into the user’s hands. Even if grid-based power costs rise, your solar panel system will be able to mitigate these costs by being an off-grid energy source.

(Video) Martin Lewis Offers Advice on Solar Panels | Good Morning Britain

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy in the UK (2)

The financial benefits of solar panels are another primary advantage that homeowners and business owners alike factor into their decisions to purchase a system. Leveraging solar panels can have a major impact on utility and power bills from the moment they are installed. With a standard system, homeowners can receive decades of free power generation with minimal maintenance costs – and when coupled with a powerfullithium battery, solar power can cut electric costs down to zero.

Return on investment (ROI) is another crucial aspect of solar panels. Although purchasing a solar system and installing it can be costly, the system will eventually pay for itself many times over. When combined with government incentives and tax rebates, the ROI can become even more powerful (and be obtained faster).

Disadvantages of Solar Panels

One of the biggest drawbacks of solar panels is their cost – high-quality solar panels, or large systems, are a pricey investment. Homeowners will make the investment costs back over time, but it can take years in cost savings to pay off the cost of purchasing and installing a solar panel system.

Although installing solar panels on your own is certainly possible, it is generally recommended to hire a professional installation company for proper installation and to mitigate incorrect setup. This can increase the initial costs of purchasing a system, with the price depending on the specific company or contractor you hire, where your property is located and how large your solar panel system is.

Another disadvantage of solar panels is the fact that they require ample space. The majority of panel systems are installed on the roofs of a building; however, depending on the size of your home or business, the roof space might not be enough to power your property. Related to the installation location is the fact that solar panels are difficult to move once they are installed, making choosing the solar panel system’s location an important decision during the setup process.

How Does Solar Energy Work: Step-by-step

While the deep-level inner workings of domestic solar energy storage systems can be highly complex, how solar energy works is relatively simple when viewed from a high level. Below is a step-by-step process of how solar panels generate power from the sun:

1. Sunlight activates the solar panel’s cells

2. The solar cells generate electricity

3. The electric power is transferred into usable electrical energy (converted from DC to AC)

(Video) What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Panels?

4. The usable electricity is made available to your home, property or business

Photovoltaic (PV) technology has come a long way since the early days of solar power, and more homeowners than ever are harnessing the sun’s rays for lowered energy bills, increased sustainability, and decreased reliance on power grids. Now that you know a bit more about solar’s benefits and potential drawbacks, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about whether or not you want to invest in this constantly evolving and exciting renewable energy source.

Make the Best Decision with Renogy

Fascinated by the advantages of solar energy and feel like investing in a solar power system but don’t know where to start? Contact Renogy for custom suggestions.

Renogy has over ten years' experience in developing user-friendly solar products, winning immense popularity among RV owners and homeowners who seek to outfit their property with a solar power system or complement their existing PV system with a home energy storage solution. Renogy also announced the release of Lycan 5000, and Pheonix 300, as well as the powerful REGO series recently. Let Renogy be your help in the journey of going solar right now.

Related articles:

What are the most efficient solar panels? ————What to know about solar panel efficiency levels

Building An Off Grid Solar System In The U.K.

Common Challenges to Going Solar

The Science Behind Solar Power Generation

How Much Are Solar Panels? | 2022 Guide UK

(Video) 19. Research solar panels: The advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

FAQs

Why is solar energy good for the UK? ›

Solar electricity is low carbon, renewable energy. A typical home solar PV system could save around one tonne of carbon per year, depending on where you live in the UK.

Is solar energy good for the UK? ›

You can expect to save roughly £270 on electricity bills annually, and together with the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), you would reach the break-even point within 16-22 years. In the end, though, no matter the situation, solar energy in the UK is typically worth it.

What are the 2 main disadvantages to solar energy? ›

Solar Cons
  • Standard home solar does not “work” at night.
  • Home solar panels are not attractive.
  • DIY solar installation is difficult (if not impossible) for most homeowners.
  • Not every roof configuration is ideal for maximum solar power generation.
  • Solar manufacturing is not good for the environment.

What are the 2 disadvantages to solar energy? ›

High initial costs for material and installation and long ROI (however, with the reduction in the cost of solar over the last 10 years, solar is becoming more cost feasible every day) Needs lots of space as efficiency is not 100% yet. No solar power at night so there is a need for a large battery bank.

Do solar panels work in UK winter? ›

We know that solar panels work in rainy conditions and even when it's cloudy, but what happens to energy generation during snowy periods? Fortunately, solar panels will still generate electricity even when covered in snow as sunlight is still able to reach solar panels.

Why is the UK good for renewable energy? ›

Today, there are four main renewable energy sources used to power the UK: wind, solar, hydroelectric and bioenergy. They harness the natural power of the sun, our weather, our waterways and tides, and organic materials to generate electricity.

Do solar panels work on cloudy days UK? ›

Solar panels don't need direct sunlight to produce electricity, which means that they'll still work on cloudy days, great news for homeowners in the UK where around 48% of the year is overcast.

Do solar panels work well in the UK? ›

Solar panels are very efficient in the UK. Although the efficiency of solar panels is higher on sunny days, they do not need direct sunlight to work. Solar panels can also produce a considerable amount of electricity on cloudy days and during the winter season.

How long do solar panels last UK? ›

How long do Solar Panels last In the UK? Studies show that solar panels typically last between 25-30 years, at which manufacturers would call the optimal rate. Which considering the average life expectancy of a boiler is between 10-15 years, isn't bad at all!

How efficient are UK solar farms? ›

How effective are they? Solar panels that are used in solar farms are fairly efficient and have efficiency ratings of around 20%. This means that panels can convert around 20% of sunlight into electricity.

What are 3 pros and cons of solar energy? ›

Main solar energy pros and cons
Pros of solar energyCons of solar energy
Reduces electric billHigh upfront cost
Insurance against rising power pricesIntermittent energy source
Solar is cheaper than everManufacturing panels has some impact on the environment
See a return on your investmentRequires space
2 more rows
31 Aug 2022

What are 10 benefits of solar energy? ›

Advantages of Solar Energy and Why You Should Switch Into Solar Panels
  • Benefits of Solar Energy to the Environment.
  • Saving Water.
  • Saving Money.
  • Gaining Money.
  • Using Renewable Energy Source.
  • Low Maintenance.
  • Improving Grid Security.
  • Creating Jobs.
27 Oct 2020

What is the biggest problem with solar energy? ›

One of the biggest problems that solar energy technology poses is that energy is only generated while the sun is shining. That means nighttime and overcast days can interrupt the supply.

What is the main disadvantage of solar energy? ›

cost. The number of solar array panels needed to capture energy for an entire home typically costs tens of thousands of dollars, making the electricity they produce cost substantially more than that provided by conventional power sources.

How do solar panels work UK? ›

First, sunlight hits a solar panel on the roof. The panels convert the energy to DC current, which flows to an inverter. The inverter converts the electricity from DC to AC, which you can then use to power your home. It's beautifully simple and clean, and it's getting more efficient and affordable all the time.

What are 3 advantages of solar panels? ›

Some advantages of solar energy include:
  • Reduced electric bill.
  • Insurance against rising energy costs.
  • Cheaper power source.
  • Return on investment.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Energy independence.
5 Oct 2020

What are the 2 main advantages to solar energy? ›

The Advantages of Solar Energy
  • #1. Solar energy reduces your monthly power bill.
  • #2. Solar energy provides lucrative tax incentives.
  • #3. Solar energy can be paired with solar battery storage.
  • #4. Solar energy is environmentally-friendly.
  • #5. Initial costs can be high.
  • #6. The permitting process can be time consuming.
  • #7. ...
  • #8.
23 Sept 2021

Does rain affect solar panels? ›

Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.

Is there enough sun in the UK for solar panels? ›

Is it sunny enough for solar power to be generated in the UK? Yes. While its true that the UK isn't exactly bathed in sunshine, solar panels, despite their name, don't need direct sunlight - they also work in cloudy or overcast weather.

How long do solar panels last? ›

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or PV panels, are made to last more than 25 years. In fact, many solar panels installed as early as the 1980s are still working at expected capacity. Not only are solar panels remarkably reliable, solar panel longevity has increased dramatically over the last 20 years.

What percentage of UK power is solar? ›

Solar contributed 28% of the U.K.'s total renewable energy generation, which was dominated by wind power.
...
Popular content.
Solar photovoltaics generation (GWh):
201812,668
201912,580
202013,158
3 more rows
29 Jul 2021

What is the best energy source for the UK? ›

Offshore and onshore wind is the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK. It not only beats the other renewable sources by 13.8% of total electricity generation in the UK, it also beats the combined generation of coal, oil, and others by 6.5%.

What is the UK's biggest source of energy? ›

Current sources of UK energy

On average, energy that is provided by UK suppliers mostly comes from gas (around 41%). Renewable sources, such as wind power are used to produce around 30% of the energy provided while the percentage figures for coal and nuclear power respectively are around 13% and 11%.

What happens in winter with solar panels? ›

Even in below-freezing weather, solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. That's because solar panels absorb energy from our sun's abundant light, not the sun's heat. In fact, cold climates are actually optimal for solar panel efficiency. So long as sunlight is hitting a solar panel, it will generate electricity.

What temperature do solar panels stop working? ›

Most solar panels perform optimally in the laboratory at the Standard Test Condition (STC) temperature of 77°F. Their efficiency degrades significantly once they reach 149°F.

Does snow affect solar panels? ›

A dusting of snow has little impact on solar panels because the wind can easily blow it off. Light is able to forward scatter through a sparse coating, reaching the panel to produce electricity. It's a different story when heavy snow accumulates, which prevents PV panels from generating power.

Are solar panels free UK? ›

Yes, it is possible to get free solar panels through the ECO4 Scheme, but you need to meet specific criteria, such as income and benefits. There have been other free solar panel grants in the past, but they have since expired. How much do solar panels cost in the UK in 2022?

Where is the best place for solar panels in the UK? ›

In the UK, we are in the northern hemisphere. This means that the sun is above the equator and therefore your solar panels will be most effective if they are south facing. Panels facing south will face the sun all day long.

Which parts of the UK are suitable for solar energy? ›

Therefore, the regions of England where solar power is most popular are the South West, South East, Yorkshire and Humberside, and East. This is where solar radiation is more intense. Additionally, if you are thinking about solar panels, you should read up on the Feed-In Tariff (FIT).

Do solar panels devalue your house UK? ›

Yes. The research indicates that solar panels add around 4.1% to a home's value – which means you could make tens of thousands of pounds. That makes sense, too: who wouldn't want to buy a home with better energy efficiency than the average property, that can save you money on your energy bills every month?

Do solar panels need servicing? ›

Solar panels are designed to be low maintenance

Unlike a boiler, your solar panels should work efficiently without a yearly service. You shouldn't need to pay extra costs for maintenance packages to keep them running well.

How long does it cost to pay off solar panels? ›

Solar panel payback time averages between 5 and 15 years in the United States, depending on where you live. How quickly your solar panels pay back their cost depends on how much you paid, the price of electricity from your utility, and available upfront and ongoing incentives.

How much solar energy hits the UK? ›

Annual generation was slightly under 13 TWh in 2020 (4.1% of UK electricity consumption), and peak generation was less than 10 GW.
...
Solar PV by size of installations.
SizeJuly 2018 (MW)
> 25 MW1,512.4
Total12,871.2
Pre 2009 estimate (for comparison)14.6
5 more rows

How long before solar panels pay for themselves UK? ›

The soaring price of electricity means a domestic solar panel system can now pay for itself in as little as seven years, and the way things are going, that could go down to five years. About a year ago, installers were saying the “payback” period was 15 years or more.

How much do solar panels reduce bills UK? ›

Solar panels will typically cut your electricity bill by 50%, resulting in annual savings between £310 and £730 for most homes. For the average three-bedroom household, it means saving £450 per year – and that's just from using half of the solar power your panels produce.

What are the 5 disadvantages of solar energy? ›

In general, the disadvantages of solar energy include high cost, low efficiency, space needed for installing solar panels, the unreliability of sun exposure, and high pollution from manufacturing solar panels. Concentrated solar power plants are massively expensive to install with very low return on investment.

What are the 2 advantages and 2 limitations of solar energy? ›

The energy generated by the sun throughout the manner of heat as well as light energy. Advantages: Solar energy somehow does not pollute the environment. It is possible to generate power using solar energy sometimes in distant as well as unreachable regions.

What's the pros and cons of solar panels? ›

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Decreases use of non-renewable resourcesHigh upfront costs
Reduces power billSunlight dependent
Energy independenceSpace constraints
Long-term savingsEnvironmental impact of manufacturing
5 more rows
14 Oct 2022

Can solar panels power a house UK? ›

So yes, solar panels really can power your home, even during the winter if you can generate enough excess energy in the summer to pay for the shortfall in the winter.

Is solar energy expensive? ›

Yes, solar panels are expensive. With a typical 6 kW system costing an average of $17,700 before incentives, they are a home improvement that requires a significant financial investment.

Do solar panels work at night? ›

The short answer is: no, solar energy systems only operate during the day. This is because the power from the sun is key to how a solar panel turns light into electricity.

Why should people go solar? ›

Solar energy is clean, renewable, and abundant. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy does not generate harmful carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases that are known to contribute to global warming.

How does solar energy benefit humans? ›

As a renewable source of power, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, which is critical to protecting humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. Solar energy can also improve air quality and reduce water use from energy production.

What is the major disadvantage of solar panels? ›

The cons are that it only produces energy when the sun is shining, needs a significant amount of land, and that certain solar technologies require rare materials.

What is one disadvantage of using solar energy? ›

Disadvantages of solar energy

You have to pay for solar panels, batteries, wiring, inverter and the installation itself. However, costs will probably decrease with the improvement of technology. Solar power systems produce the most when it is a sunny day. However, they still generate electricity on cloudy days.

What is the pros and cons of solar energy? ›

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Decreases use of non-renewable resourcesHigh upfront costs
Reduces power billSunlight dependent
Energy independenceSpace constraints
Long-term savingsEnvironmental impact of manufacturing
5 more rows
14 Oct 2022

What are some dangers of solar energy? ›

While solar energy is among the cleanest and least hazardous of energy sources, there are four significant hazards during installation and maintenance: Lifting, Trips & Falls, Electrical, and Ladders.
...
ELECTRICAL
  • Thermal burns.
  • Muscle, nerve, and tissue damage.
  • Falls from a surprise shock.
  • Death.

What problems do people have with solar panels? ›

In general, the disadvantages of solar energy include high cost, low efficiency, space needed for installing solar panels, the unreliability of sun exposure, and high pollution from manufacturing solar panels. Concentrated solar power plants are massively expensive to install with very low return on investment.

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