As one of the planets only sources of truly renewable energy, solar power has been under scrutiny for decades. It is a principle that turns the UV light from the Sun into usable electricity. Without the Sun to power these photovoltaic devices, our concerns for power would be moot. While those who are Earth-conscious praise the cleanliness of solar arrays versus the emissions produced by coal-based plants and others, there is more to this form of power than many may not realize.
1. Cost Efficiency – One of the biggest downfalls solar power generation has had to face in the past is the cost of implementing such structures. For residential areas, the cost could range between $45,000 to $65,000 before subsidies and/or tax credits. If you finance the project, the monthly payments usually surpass your current electric bill savings and could take you up to 10 years to pay it off. Essentially, you would have to live in your home for more than 10 years before you begin to feel the benefits of the installation.
However, technologies are being developed regularly in order to reduce the cost of these installations. The goal is to drive the cost down so that photovoltaic power can become a reality for everyone and not just the upper-class citizens who can afford the installation. If people could see the immediate benefits of building a solar alternative, they would be more inclined to invest in the project.
2. Little by Little – Some coal-based power plants are adding small 20Mhr panels a piece at a time as they can afford to do so. Although this doesn’t sound like a vast amount of power considering many of these plants generate one-gigawatt hour and up, every little contribution helps. Eventually, the solar array will be large enough to surpass the methods of coal, oil, and even nuclear generation. If the cost of panels could be decreased, these companies would invest in building larger units as time goes on. Since there is no real material that goes into creating solar-based power, these companies would save hundreds of billions of dollars across the country in coal alone.
3. Innovation through Demand – You see the effects of innovation through the demand of a particular good every day. Each year, mobile phone units are created to be better than the one before. The competition is fierce in this market and each version surpasses its predecessor. This is because it is demanded by the consumers. If the demand was equally as strong in photovoltaic technologies, manufacturers would be hard pressed to develop cost effective methods in order to stay ahead of the game. Although the market for solar power on a global scale is gaining traction, such as the DESERTEC project in North Africa, the advancements aren’t nearly as forthcoming as they would be 4.1 billion people demanded it as they do their smartphones. One sure-fire way to drive that demand is by reducing the cost to the consumers.
Set aside that solar power generation leaves a miniscule carbon footprint behind. Overlook the headlines starting with, “Green Energy.” But consider the ramifications as a whole of the benefits solar arrays can provide to communities. It is a source of power that will only dissipate when the Sun does. Our star will produce power for the next several billion years, why not tap it to improve our way of life?
This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston.