Solar power has a lot of the same advantages and problems as wind power. Mongolia has lots of sun all through the year, and “solar farms,” collections of large numbers of solar panels like the ones above, can generate a lot of clean and renewable electricity in many areas. However, there are still problems with solar energy in Mongolia.
- Solar farms take up a lot of land. In the southern part of Mongolia, the Gobi Desert area is the obvious place to put large numbers of solar panels. However, now you have the same problem you had with wind: you are far from places where people live. You have to somehow connect the panels to the main power grid. The further from the power users that you get, the more power you lose just by transmitting it over a large distance. In the picture above, the company that produces energy with the solar panels, raises vegetables underneath them! That allows them to use the land for both purposes at once.
- Wind blows most strongly at night, but solar power is only available during the day (and only on sunny days). That is more useful than producing energy at night as wind turbines do, but it still means that you need to balance it with energy production that works at night or you need a way of storing the energy for use at night.
- On some days in some areas, there is no sun. That means you need some energy source that can replace solar power when it isn’t available.
A big difference between solar power and wind power is that it is pretty easy and pretty inexpensive to set up solar panels to get electricity to small areas or even a single building. In a country where a lot of people live scattered across the countryside, that could make a big difference!