Business Resources

Solar Energy - Enlighten now! (or later...)

Should you go solar, the pros and cons of going green.

Let's talk about the main factors, how much money will I save and will I help save the planet. The typical return on investment period for solar panels in the UK is around 7 to 10 years if you believe what the salesman tells you. In my opinion, the return on investment (ROI) period for solar panels in the USA and the UK typically ranges from 5-25 years. The ROI period will depend on the type of system you install and the incentives available in your area. Tax breaks, interest free loans and government grants can make or break the deal.

The return on investment for solar panels without incentives or tax breaks will vary depending on the size of the system, and the specific energy needs of the home. Generally, the return on investment can range from around 7-20% annually. In other words, if your setup, the electricity generated was at its optimum and we lived in a perfect world, the return on investment could be 5 years. Realistically though, most homes would be efficient at the bottom end of the scale with more than 12 year to get your money back. That's what history tells as well, its not a short term investment. You should also take into account that the money for installation will have been tied up and not earned any interest. It might be wiser to put the money in the bank earning interest, wait for the prices to go down even further and new technologies in the solar panels industry improve and generate more electricity. That is why government tax breaks, incentives and grants are critical. Imagine you pay now for full solar installation. Let's say the cost is 20 000 pounds and that brings your electricity bill down by 1000 pounds per year. In one years time, the cost of installation has probably gone down by 1000 pounds/USD (the speed at which the price/cost of solar panels are going down has slowed significantly though) and the newer solar panels would probably generate 10-15% more electricity as the tech improves. So you see the paradox, it is like a dog chasing its tail, it will never catch it.

In brief, the costs of solar panels are still dropping. In the past decade, the cost of solar panels has dropped significantly, making them more affordable for consumers. As technology advances and production costs decrease even further, the cost of solar panels are expected to continue to decline in price albeit at a much slower pace.


1. Reduce Electricity Bills: Solar energy is free, so once you have solar panels installed, your energy costs will be reduced. The money you save on your electricity bills can be invested in other areas of your home.
2. Increase Property Value: Studies have shown that homes with solar panels sell faster and for a higher price than non-solar homes.
3. Reliable Energy Source: Solar energy is a reliable source of energy because it is available during the day, even when the sun is not shining.
4. Environmentally Friendly: Solar energy does not produce any emissions, so it is an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity.
5. Quiet: Solar panels are silent and do not produce any noise pollution.
6. Low Maintenance: Solar panels require very little maintenance, just occasional cleaning.
7. Flexible: Solar panels can be installed on almost any surface and can be used for a variety of applications, like powering lighting, heating, cooling and other electrical equipment.
8. Create Jobs: The solar industry is a growing industry and is creating thousands of jobs all over the world.


1. Solar panels require a large initial investment, and they may take several years to pay for themselves.
2. Solar panels are often difficult to install, and they require a lot of maintenance.
3. Solar panels may not be suitable for certain climates or locations.
4. Solar panels can be easily damaged, and replacement parts can be expensive.
5. Solar panels are not 100% efficient, and they require a lot of space.
6. Solar panels can be inconvenient due to their size and weight.
7. Solar panels can be hazardous if they are not installed correctly.

Food for thought:

The mining of minerals for solar panels can have a significant impact on the environment. Surface mining of coal and other minerals used for solar panels requires large amounts of land to be disturbed. These activities can lead to the destruction of natural habitats and can cause significant air, water and land pollution. The production of solar panels requires large amounts of energy and resources, resulting in the release of hazardous materials and the emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, the disposal of solar panels can also lead to environmental pollution.

1. Solar Panels Produce Hazardous Waste: Solar panels contain a variety of hazardous materials, such as lead, cadmium and toxic salts. These materials must be disposed of properly to avoid polluting the environment.

2. Solar Panels Use Energy to Produce Energy: Solar panels require energy to manufacture, including energy to mine the raw materials and energy to assemble the panels. This energy consumption results in greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Solar Panels are Expensive: Solar panels are still relatively expensive compared to other energy sources. This limits their use to those with sufficient financial resources.

4. High Initial Cost: The initial cost of installing a solar power station is quite high. This is because of the large amount of equipment required, such as solar panels, batteries, inverters, and specialized equipment for mounting and installation.

5. Maintenance: Solar power stations require regular maintenance to ensure they are functioning correctly. This includes cleaning solar panels, replacing batteries, checking wiring and connections, and inspecting the equipment for any signs of wear. This can be expensive and time-consuming.

6. Weather Dependent: Solar power stations are heavily reliant on weather conditions. Cloudy days or storms can significantly reduce the amount of energy produced, and the lack of sunlight in the winter months may be problematic for some areas.

7. Space Requirements: Solar power stations require a large amount of space to install the necessary equipment. This can be a problem for some locations, particularly those with limited land available.


1. Mining for minerals can cause environmental damage due to the release of toxins and heavy metals into the environment.

2. Mining operations can cause disruption to local ecosystems, including the destruction of habitats, land erosion, and water pollution.

3. The cost of extracting minerals for solar panels can be high due to the need for specialized equipment and manpower.

4. Mining for minerals can be dangerous for miners, as there is a risk of cave-ins, toxic gas exposures, and fires.

5. Mining for minerals can be a slow and labor-intensive process, requiring large amounts of energy.

6. The use of heavy machinery in the mining process can cause increased noise and air pollution.

7. Mining operations can have a negative impact on local communities, including the displacement of people, loss of livelihoods, and disruption of traditional ways of life.

8. Mining operations can threaten the safety of wildlife, as they can alter habitats and introduce new pollutants into the environment.

9. Mining operations can increase the risk of accidents, such as flooding, landslides, and pollution of water sources.

10. Minerals used in solar panels can be rare or difficult to access, resulting in higher costs for solar panel manufacturers.
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