If you are weighing up solar energy advantages and disadvantages the stand out problem in the UK is cloud cover. In fact cloud cover is the biggest concern regarding solar panels UK residents mention. Is it as big a problem as suggested?

It cant be denied that cloud cover has a significant effect on the efficiency of solar panels UK properties have fitted. There is some debate about exactly how much efficiency is lost, but low, thick cloud cover could take solar panels to a quarter of their normal efficiency. So there is no doubt that during thick cloud cover you lose a lot of efficiency.

Of course it is rare to have one entirely cloudy day (as it is rare to have one entirely clear day.) Scattered and broken clouds in reality have a minimal effect on the efficiency of photo voltaic solar panels.

So, how big is the problem with solar panels UK homeowners face? We have a lot of cloud. Its understandable that so many people think so, but actually the weather in the UK is not as bad as we often think. You might be surprised to learn that there is actually only cloud cover over the south of England for around 50% of the time, the other half of daylight hours the skies are completely (or almost completely) clear. Even when there is cloud it is often not severe enough to seriously impact on your solar panels, for a further 20% of the time the cloud cover is broken and scattered. In both clear skies and during scattered and broken cloud solar generation should be efficient.

In fact, studies show that it is only around 30% of the time that the skies over southern England are entirely overcast due to cloud, rain, fog and snow. Who would have believed it? Obviously you will find that a lot of this bad weather is going to be seasonal, so you will still need to be connected to the grid to provide electricity during longer periods of bad weather, but look at the whole year and you will see that solar panels will work for you. Remember that on all of those clear days or days with low cloud cover you are likely to be generating and selling electricity back into the national grid, so overall this is still a very solid investment.

So, an efficient source of power even in the UK and by making the right choice of system you can do even better. Also, next time that you look into the sky and see nothing but cloud cover, rain, fog or snow just remember that around 70% of the time its much better than this!

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Haines is a keen environmentalist with a strong interest in sustainable energy, including solar energy advantages and disadvantages. When not writing on the environment Sarah has a strong interest in issues effecting UK business and in travel.