Looking at the following chart, it’s pretty clear we get way more ofour electricity from coal than we do from solar power. I mean, solardoesn’t even show up when compared to the Goliath that is coal:
For the record, solar photovoltaic (“PV”) and solar thermal resources accounted for 891 thousand megawatt-hours of electricity in 2009,according to Department of Energy figures. Coal, meanwhile, is used to generate about 45 percent of all our electricity — making it the single largest source of power in America.
So, who’s going to stand up for solar? Here are five reasons why solar power beats the pants of coal:
(1) Solar is clean. Once up and running, a solarenergy system is a zero-emissions source of power. No carbon-dioxide. No sulfur dioxide. No arsenic. No air-borne particulates… Essentially none of the environmental and health hazards associated with coal-fired power plants.
(2) Coal is old energy. Think about it: when youcombust coal, you’re essentially burning dead plant material that wasburied millions of years ago. Plus, coal has been mined for use as afuel as far back as 10,000 years ago in China. Talk about yesterday’s energy…
A solar PV panel, by contrast, generates electricity using new energy from the sun. Literally: it takes about 11 minutes from when thesunlight leaves the sun, hits your solar panels and gets converted intojuice to power your flatscreen TV.
(3) Coal is a finite resource. I’m not going to lie: we here in the U.S. are blessed (maybe cursed?) with vast coalreserves; we’ve got a hundred years or more worth of the stuff. But if I were going to put my money on which will happen first — we run out ofcoal or the sun burns out — I’d be all in on the former.
(4) Cost-wise, solar is closing in on coal. Newanalysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that, as the cost of generating electricity from the sun continues to fall, solar power may soon rival coal-fired plants.
(5) Solar panels generate electricity at a fixed price. Since the “fuel” that powers solar panels comes from the sun, you don’t haveto pay for it. As a result, the price of the resulting electricity won’t fluctuate over time. (Indeed, this is one of the great benefits ofowning a solar energy system: as the price of conventional electricityincreases over time, the impact of these hikes on your monthly energycosts is minimized.)
In contrast, operators of coal-fueled plants have to take into consideration price fluctuations of their main input, coal.
Any other reasons solar PV is better than coal? Post ‘em below or on Twitter: #solarvscoal
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