For years, solar energy has been widely viewed as a promise of clean, abundant energy that simply can’t be kept because of its inefficiency expense. But research into solar panels has advanced to where their cost can be subdued and their efficiency improved.
Yet even if solar energy eventually becomes a major substitute for fossil fuels worldwide – and there is yet no guarantee of that – it still faces major hurdles.
First, the good news: Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems has come out with a new study concluding that solar power will become the most affordable source of power in many areas of the world in the next decade.
For example, the Fraunhofer said, the cost of generating electricity in central and southern Europe will decline to between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt hour by 2025, and as low as 2 to 4 cents by 2050. This is far less expensive than electricity generated by the newest, most efficient coal- and gas-fired plants, which cost between 5 and 10 cents per kilowatt hour and nuclear plants which cost up to 11 cents.
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