Is Solar Energy better than Fossil Fuels?
The debate between clean energy sources vs. fossil fuels has been going on for years. The effects of climate change are apparent around the world. Countries around the world are taking steps to switch to cleaner energy sources. Even with the goal of sustainable, clean energy, countries around the world are still reliant on oil, coal, and natural gas for their energy production. Clean energy sources such as solar and wind contribute roughly two to three percent of the world’s energy. With all of the benefits of solar power, we still use fossil fuels. The dilemma begs the question, is solar energy better than fossil fuels?
Comparing Solar Energy and Fossil Fuels
To answer the question we have to understand each energy source. Learning about how each energy source works, its advantages, disadvantages, cost, and how governments are subsidizing them.
The technological differences of these energy sources:
Talking about fossil fuels and solar energy, we also have to discuss the technology behind these energy sources. Fossil fuels are straightforward, as they are harvested from the earth, processed for their specific use, then transported to where they are burned to create energy. Solar energy comes from photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into energy. You can see a stark difference in technology that makes fossil fuels seem ancient by comparison.
Even still, solar still has some ways to go to improve over time, as the technology improves, it will become cheaper and more accessible to produce, meaning the cost of production will go down. Improvements can also come to battery technology. Especially if solar power is being used to power homes and vehicles that aren’t connected to the grid. Improvements and innovations take time, and we will also see fossil fuels becoming further phased out of use.
Benefits of Solar Energy and Fossil Fuels.
Solar energy is a clean, renewable fuel source that isn’t as harmful to the environment. Installing solar power is easy, with panels installed on a rooftop or ground mount and adjusted to capture the most sunlight.
However, with the current energy infrastructure, fossil fuels are much more reliable, since they aren’t dependent on factors such as climate and terrain. We drive around with fossil fuels in our vehicles as we don’t have to depend on sunlight and can
Downsides of Solar Energy and Fossil Fuels.
The downside of solar energy is down to its dependence on sunlight. If there isn’t enough sunlight shining on your panels, the energy production will be affected. Weather such as rain and snow can drastically affect energy production. If you are living off the grid, you will have to store and manage your surplus energy with batteries.
While managing batteries may seem like a hassle, it still doesn’t compare to the downsides of fossil fuels. Over the years, we have become more and more aware of their pollution and environmental impact. Harvesting these fossil fuels degrades the environment, and is a limited resource that will eventually run out. This dwindling supply and increased scarcity are reflected by its increasing price and production cost. Fossil fuels are becoming less appealing as time passes.
How are their prices compared to each other?
There is no simple way to answer this question, as each country would have different pricing for each power source. Government subsidies for energy sources can affect how they are priced and adopted in their countries. Infrastructure costs can differ between countries and the companies that harvest and provide utilities with these energy sources.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has recently released a report that states renewable sources such as solar and wind are undercutting the cheapest fossil fuels. The price of concentrating solar power dropped by 16%, while solar panel systems have dropped by 7%. The operational costs of running these renewables are lower than existing coal plants. If the U.S. alone would retire and replace its coal plants, we could cut expenses by $5.6 billion per year.
How are these energy sources subsidized?
Government subsidies play a large part in the adoption of an energy source. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) currently covers 26 percent of any U.S. solar energy installation. Even still, solar energy is likely the cheapest energy source without subsidies. If you compared the global prices of each energy source, coal prices have historically averaged $0.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Fossil fuel steam averages roughly $0.05/kWh while small-scale natural gas averages $0.03/kWh. The record-low auction prices of renewables are as low as $1.10 to $0.03/kWh. These prices are expected to drop as renewable energy technology improves.
With the benefits of solar energy becoming evident day by day, you may be wondering how you can get started with solar power. Our website has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.