Cheap, Sustainable Solar Power Can Help Make a "Greener" World

Technology has shown that it's possible to harness the energy of the sun in a clean and sustainable way. Costs to go solar have continued to decrease as technology improves and solar power gains traction ... however, cheap, sustainable solar power is still a few decades away from making it into our every day lifestyles.

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The goal is to create energy systems that are pollution-free, abundant and capable of providing enough power to meet demand. All other power sources (i.e. hydro, coal-fired and nuclear) meet some of these criteria but have serious problems that are not factored into the price. Hydro causes environmental degradation on the local watershed; coal-fired power plants give off carbon-dioxide; and nuclear waste sits around waiting for a future solution. In contrast, solar power:

  • ... does little to harm the environment. Solar cells are made from semiconductor material that can last up to 30 years. As long as there's direct sunlight, electricity can be generated.

  • ... can be used in remote locations where access to the grid is physically or financially impossible.

  • ... might not become a nation's primary energy source due to the lack of energy storage, but it can help lower our dependency on polluting sources of energy.

Sustainable solar power is available today, but it is certainly not the cheapest available energy source. Subsidies are required to compete against other power sources whose true cost is hidden. When factoring in the cost of pollution and environmental degradation of the other sources, the economics of solar power look more promising (not to mention the many benefits! - click here to get a free quote for solar in your area).

In order for solar power to make a larger impact, it needs to overcome some technical and economic hurdles:

  • Solar cells need to become more efficient. Doubling the efficiency of the energy conversion will significantly reduce the size of the panel.

  • Small-scale solar power is good for households but economies-of-scale need to be created. Large solar generating plants need to be constructed so they can share personnel, outdoor facilities and transmission lines.

  • Consumers will have to accept the true cost of power which is substantially more than the currently subsidized prices.

  • Consumers will need to be willing to design solar power systems into their new homes, or accept the potentially costly retrofitting of solar power into existing homes.

  • Consumers need to conserve more energy. Solar power is only available during daylight hours and so appliances, lights and our entire lifestyles need to use less energy.

Cheap, sustainable solar power would provide energy to future generations while reducing the impact of pollution, toxic waste and environmental problems from other energy sources.