Solar Energy vs Fossil Fuels


In the solar energy vs fossil fuels debate, it is solar that has been clearly winning as of late. Here’s why.

1. Solar energy is creating more jobs.

Although there are stories like the bankruptcies of SunEdison and Solyndra, solar has been creating tens of thousands of jobs overall. In 2012, solar added a total of 14,000 jobs while the fossil fuel industry cut a net 4,000 jobs. Since 2010, solar has been able to grow at 10 times the rate of the US economy.

2. Solar energy is becoming more competitive in price.

When solar energy was first introduced as a technology, the cost was $75 per kilowatt hour using 2016 money valuation. Today that same solar energy is available at $0.75 per kilowatt hour. At the same time, the cost of coal has been rising. Since 2008, the price of coal has risen by 13% despite the US stockpiling nearly 4 centuries worth of coal in reserve.

3. Solar energy has more capacity than ever before.

From 1975-2001, the total installed capacity of solar energy was very minimal on a global scale. In 2013, the US became just the fourth country to have 10 GW of solar energy capacity. From 2010-2012, 66% of the total solar capacity that we have today was installed. So although this technology has been around for some time, it is just now starting to see its true potential.

4. Solar energy is seeing greater investments.

Coal companies have dropped a cumulative 75% of their total value since 2008. In comparison, many investors are looking to solar as a source of new power and investment. Even Warren Buffet has said that coal will gradually decline in importance, so investors are seeing the power transition already happening from fossil fuels to alternative energies.

5. Solar energy has a dramatically lower environmental impact.

Although solar panels do require fossil fuels to be manufactured, they will create power for years afterward. This means reducing emissions by several tons, eliminating coal and biomass particles from the atmosphere, and even limiting the effects of coal mining.

There will be growing pains as the solar energy vs fossil fuels debate resolves itself. Jobs will shift. Livelihoods will change. In the long run, this will be a good thing for our planet. In the short run, however, there will be families who are financially affected as the transition occurs.