WHY SOLAR ENERGY IS NOT YET MORE WIDELY USED?

     

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Arthur Fong

With the climate crisis being a consideration at the forefront of energy generation today, it"s no surprise that solar nguồn is receiving so much good press. However, despite that, there"s very slow adoption of the alternative energy source. In the US, the Office of Energy Efficiency và Renewable Energy mentions that there"s enough solar power generation to power twelve million American households. Yet, in a country with over three hundred million residents, this seems like a drop in the bucket. Why has solar not garnered the sort of traction one would expect for a population that"s so involved in changing over to alternative fuels?

Solar Used to lớn Be Expensive, But Not Anymore

One of the most common statements used lớn defend solar energy"s low adoption rate is how expensive solar panels used to lớn be in the past. However, according khổng lồ PV Magazine, solar panels cost has dropped lớn around 70c per watt & is still falling today. As with all new technology, as it became more widely used, the price began to lớn drop. NASA requires solar panels for their missions, và residential and commercial users started adopting these panels and putting them lớn use on the ground. The amount of money put into R&D for panels in the early days of the space program ensured that these new panels" efficiency remained high.

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The bulk of the cost for fossil fuel power generation comes from their supply. The journal Energy Policy underlines that as much as 40% of the total cost of coal-powered plants comes from acquiring the coal they need lớn burn in the first place. Conversely, things like the sun and wind energy are free and easily harnessable, removing the need for buying raw material khổng lồ burn. Additionally, solar panels give individual responsibility to the person using them. If the panels are being installed into a commercial or residential building, the owner can choose how they use their energy.

Thinking Green - The Impact of Solar power nguồn on Greenhouse Emissions

Probably the largest elephant in the room when it comes khổng lồ discussing fossil fuels in power nguồn generation is the massive carbon footprint it has. This concern has been the source of worry since these emissions are responsible for starting a runaway greenhouse effect, causing severe climate & weather pattern changes worldwide. There are many solar panels in use in the US right now, but the volume is too small to lớn make a significant dent in the global warming trend. With so many people concerned about oil and coal, many fossil fuel power generation stations have switched to natural gas. The raw material for these plants has decreased in price since the recent glut due khổng lồ American fracking. While natural gas plants bởi vì pollute less than oil and coal-fired plants, they are still significant contributors to lớn greenhouse emissions. A natural gas power nguồn plant only produces 60% of the pollution as a coal-fired or oil generation plant.

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The Unwritten Favor that Fossil Fuels Get

With these two significant pillars fueling its adoption, you"d think that renewable energy might be replacing fossil fuels in a big way. Unfortunately, you"d be wrong in that assumption. The industry seems heavily skewed towards fossil fuels. For businesses whose main aim is profit, it"s far more economically feasible khổng lồ change over the raw material of an existing plant than lớn construct a new renewables plant. Additionally, the investors in nguồn companies expect a specific rate of return in their investments. The quality of return they get from fossil fuels makes it more attractive lớn run those types of plants instead of renewables.

The "lock-in" effect is what"s been keeping renewables from taking over the market in a way that you"d expect—the majority of costs in a power nguồn plant come from construction. With fossil fuel plants built in the twentieth century, there"s no need to expend that money all over again. The plant"s already built, & it can keep operating indefinitely until it"s no longer viable. The economic reality is that paying to lớn develop a renewables plant doesn"t have the same màn chơi of promised return as yet. Coupled with the constant iteration of the technology, it"s just not viable lớn construct new renewable plants. The tech will continue to evolve rapidly, requiring plants to start retrofitting their systems almost as soon as the plant is finished building. This ongoing upkeep cost is what makes investors wary about renewable energy sources. However, the investors may not have the final say in this battle.

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A Slow Road, But Change is Coming

While large companies may not see the benefit of solar & wind renewables, it"s found a considerable following within the population. In affluent countries, renewable energy is a significant contributor khổng lồ the country"s power generation numbers. In the developing world, individuals are seeing the use of being independent of the national grid. The cost of panels will continue lớn fall as efficiency rises, making it much more viable for individuals to invest in renewable energy. Larger companies, too, are getting help to switch over their production facilities to lớn more renewable sources. Solar may not have had its proverbial "day in the sun" as yet, but it"s only a matter of time before it does.