comparing solar energy to other energy sources

Comparing Solar Energy to Other Energy Sources

SHR Energy Management Industry Snapshot, News

Renewable energy has been fighting to rise to the top of the energy industry for a few decades. Only recently have solar and wind energy shown that they are truly viable solutions to the world’s energy crisis. Doubters of renewable energy love to bring up comparisons that are not valid in an effort to discredit solar energy. Thankfully, facts and science are on our side and can clear up any misconceptions about solar energy. 

Comparing solar energy to other energy sources will show why the sun has a real chance of being humanity’s primary source of energy.

Wind Energy

Yes, even other renewable energy sources are not the best choice when compared to solar energy. Solar energy can go toe to toe with wind energy in every aspect.

Wind energy is highly location-dependent. Solar energy panels can be put nearly everywhere the sun shines. This is great for small villages that are located off of the beaten path and do not have access to a power grid. Solar energy has the potential to give electricity to these villages that have not had the chance previously. They can be installed into mini electric grids that will give villagers and rural residents very inexpensive electricity.

Additionally, wind turbines are also extremely expensive to install and there are plenty of complaints from locals who live nearby. Installing a wind farm is a massive operation that requires a lot of manpower. Residents rarely complain about the installation process of solar panels in a field or on a neighbor’s house.

A solar farm generally takes about 4 months for a complete installation. Conversely, a wind farm of similar power generation takes about 6 months for a complete installation. Solar energy is much easier on the eyes, and solar farms generally last longer than wind farms as well. There are solar farms from more than 30 years ago that are still in operation, whereas the design life for a quality wind turbine is about 20 years.

Hydroelectric Energy

Although hydroelectric energy is renewable, there are only so many places on Earth where it can be used as a power source, unlike solar energy which can be used in almost every environment around the world. Hydroelectric dams are also thought of as a terrorist target because of how important they are to certain parts of the power grid. Solar energy is too spread out to ever be a real target for terrorists.

Coal Energy

Coal power plants produce some of the worst byproducts for the environment. Solar energy is a renewable source of energy and will substantially cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere. Coal is increasingly becoming more expensive as well. Just in April of 2019 renewable energy produced more energy than coal in the United States for the first time ever. Solar energy will become more economically viable than coal plants in the near future.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear waste is a huge problem when it comes to nuclear energy. In particular, nuclear waste is very expensive to handle and take care of. There is already 100,000 tons of nuclear waste, and that waste is not going away anytime in our lifetime. Solar energy does not produce any waste that will adversely affect the environment.

Nuclear power plants are becoming increasingly obsolete and out of date. There have not been enough capital investments into nuclear energy to open new nuclear power plants and keep the current plants up to date. Meanwhile, governments and private organizations are pouring billions of dollars into solar panels every year.

Cost Comparison

The doubters of solar energy have always brought up cost in the past to discount solar energy and its potential. Solar energy has quickly caught up to the rest of energy sources in terms of cost per kilowatt. Just in the past decade solar energy has plummeted from an average cost of over $350 per megawatt hour in 2009 to $50 per megawatt hour in 2017.

Wind energy is the only energy source that currently has a lower cost than solar energy. However, that could potentially change in the future if there are advances in solar technology. Nuclear energy had a cost of $147 per megawatt hour and coal had a cost of $107 per megawatt hour in 2017.

It is incredible to see how quickly solar energy has progressed and what it means for the future. Solar energy will continue to play a large part of power grids over the next few decades. There are positives and negatives to all energy sources, but when comparing solar energy to other energy sources, it is obvious that the benefits of solar outweigh any drawbacks. Contact us to discuss how you can help with the global energy crisis by investing in solar energy.