As with all technology, innovation and development coincide with popular interest. As more consumers and corporations look towards renewable energy methods, providers are working diligently to develop improved efficiency. As solar is getting a boost in technology, where does that leave coal? Supporters for coal go to great lengths to discredit solar use as being “premature” and “not cost effective.” However, those arguments are seeing less traction than they did in the mid 2000s.
Although it’s true that developing a solar array is more expensive to build than a coal-firing plant in the short term, what about maintaining power levels over time? What many skeptics fail to include is the operational costs of each compared to the other. How do they compare when stacked side-by-side over a span of a decade?
1. Continued Functionality – In order for coal-firing plants to maintain power levels for the community, thousands and thousands of tons of coal is consumed yearly by the United States alone. According to HowStuffWorks.com, a single light bulb that is on 24 hours per day could consume up to five pounds of coal over the span of a year. That is a single bulb in a single residence.
Solar energy requires no other additional consumable resource in order to power that same light bulb. Although deep-cycle batteries will vary on maintaining power levels during night-time and other situations, that same light bulb could be illuminated almost indefinitely. Skeptics may try to point out that the sunlight is a consumable resource as it will eventually end. This argument is moot when considering if the sun were to stop providing light, we’d have more pressing problems on Earth than arguing over efficiency.
2. The Downline – A great deal of fuel and other expenses are wrapped up in producing coal to keep our power plants creating electricity using pressurized steam and a turbine. Train loads and semi-trucks that burn diesel fuels for nothing more than transporting coal could be used for other practical purposes. Insurance premiums for coal miners and the life expectancy alone could be cause for alarm for companies.
Solar power is virtually self-sustaining. Sure, there are workers and maintenance staff on hand to make sure that the plant continues working. A panel could malfunction and have to be repaired. However, there are no shipments of fuels to worry about or life insurance policies to be paid for those who have a reduced lifespan.
3. Power Production – Currently, solar arrays are coming close to being comparable to coal-firing power plants. In fact, materials and methods are being developed in order to vastly decrease the cost and improve efficiency panels can pull energy from sunlight. Some arrays are being developed that produce more power than some of the coal-firing counterparts across the United States, and future developments are expected to do so as well.
Setting aside the fact that there are no emissions produced from the actual usage of a solar array compared to coal-firing burners, these are just a few ways that make solar arrays superior to the alternative. As costs to develop solar arrays continue to drop, the days of coal and oil burning plants are growing short. Popularity has driven the continued success of innovation and solar has grown to be more than the “fad” that skeptics assumed it would be in the early 2000s. If this kind of growth continues, coal-firing plants may be all but extinct by 2030.
Author Bio: This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.