While clean energy sources such as solar power and wind power are on the rise, they still only represent a minute portion of global energy production. That’s mainly because building and maintaining large-scale solar and wind farms is expensive, and there are still many areas of the world where people lack access to electricity. So, if you’re wondering whether or not to invest in renewable energy, here’s the information you need to know.
The cost-effectiveness of solar energy compares favorably to the cost-effectiveness of other energy sources, particularly when you take into account the long term. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost of electricity from a solar system can range from 1 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the system size. The cost of electricity from a coal-fired power plant ranges from 4 to 7 cents per kilowatt hour. The difference is that over the life of the solar system, the cost of electricity is higher for the coal plant, but the cost of maintaining the plant is much higher due to frequent repairs and replacements. In addition, there’s also the environmental cost that has to be considered- creating radioactive waste that has to be stored safely and eventually disposed of. The cost of a large solar farm can reach $100 million, but once you account for the energy it generates, the cost can drop to around $20 million.
Renewable energy has several advantages over other forms of energy production, not the least of which is that it provides a way to reduce one’s energy dependence on foreign nations. Wind and solar power are extremely viable options for energy generation, as they don’t require any fossil fuels, dependable, and environment-friendly fuel sources, such as natural gas or coal. In fact, many utility companies in North America have been known to purchase and install renewable energy sources, in order to have greater energy security and diversify their supply away from volatile fossil fuels.
Increasing Demand, Especially In Developing Nations
Developing nations around the world are leading the way in regards to adopting renewable energy sources, mainly due to the fact that cheaper electricity can be used for a variety of applications and tasks, especially in regions that don’t have reliable access to fossil fuels. For example, in Africa, the number of solar systems per 1,000 people is around 15, compared to only 2 solar systems per 1,000 people in Indonesia. The increased demand for solar energy in these regions is primarily due to the fact that it’s significantly less expensive to generate electricity using solar energy rather than expensive and polluting fuels. In addition to achieving energy independence, the use of renewable energy can help to combat climate change, as it reduces the dependency on fossil fuels, which are major sources of greenhouse gases.
The Rise Of Small-Scale Renewable Energy
Although the cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness of solar energy make it an attractive option for power generation, large-scale solar and wind farms are still expensive to build and maintain. In addition, not everyone has the space or the land to dedicate to such projects. So, for smaller scale applications, such as powering an electric vehicle or charging electronics at home, solar energy becomes less viable. As a result, there has been a significant rise in the popularity of small-scale renewable energy solutions, such as solar power systems, which can range from a couple of kilowatts to 20 kilowatts or more. These types of systems are more affordable and more convenient for smaller businesses and households, as they don’t require extensive land ownership to build and can be installed anywhere that gets sunlight or wind exposure. In fact, with the right solar panel and battery bank, a small solar system can provide power for an electric vehicle for up to a year or more- depending on how far you drive and how often you recharge!
So, despite its many advantages, solar energy isn’t a suitable replacement for all forms of energy production. Instead, it’s a viable option for powering certain devices and applications, such as electronic equipment and appliances, which consume a lot of energy and don’t require frequent charging. Its primary use at this point is more of a supplement to conventional sources of energy, rather than a replacement for them.