Q:

What are the pros and cons of solar energy?

A:

The advantages of solar power include the energy independence it bestows on its users, quiet energy production, the lack of negative effects on the environment, and its overall cost. On the other hand, the high initial cost and its dependence on clear weather serve as deterrents to widespread adoption.

Solar panels and the process of converting solar energy into electricity do not directly cause pollution, although the manufacturing of solar panels, their transportation and installation can negatively affect the environment. The overall level of pollution in an area can diminish the effectiveness of solar panels, as high levels of smog and other particulates partially occlude the sun's rays.

A benefit of solar energy is its ability to provide electricity to homes and facilities in areas that are not connected to a conventional electric grid. Installing solar panels is less expensive than laying the high-voltage wires necessary to establish the connection.

As of 2014, the cost of a single highly efficient solar cell can go above $1,000, which precludes many households from utilizing solar power. Coupled with the fact that poor weather negatively affects their efficiency, and that solar panels do not work at night, solar power could prove to be insufficient, depending on electricity needs.

Federal and state jurisdictions typically offer financial incentives such as tax breaks, discounts or grants to people who opt to install solar panels, but this benefit is often offset by the costs required to maintain and repair the panels, on account of their sensitivity to damage.

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