When can We Expect the Costs of Solar Energy and Fossil Fuels Matching?
written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/28/2009
The high costs of the solar panels is the major hindrance in the use of solar energy. As per the estimates the cost of the solar and fossil fuel energy would become equal by the year 2020, but the more optimistic estimate suggest that this could happen as early as in 2013.
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One of the major hindrance in the wide spread use of the solar energy is the cost associated with the solar panels or solar cells also called photovoltaic cells or PV cells. The solar cells collect the solar energy and convert it into electricity. Due to technological innovations the costs of the solar panels are estimated to reduce in the coming years, while due to excessive demand of electricity the cost of the fossil fuels is expected to increase during the same period. As per the predictions it is only by around 2020 that the costs of the energy from solar sources will get closer to the energy from fossil fuels.
However, there are some more optimistic estimates from UK’s largest solar energy company, Solarcentury, which has stated that in the next few years the costs of fossil fuels will increase much faster and the costs of silicon, used for making solar PV cells will reduce much faster. The company claims that it is by the year 2013 that the costs of the solar energy and fossil fuel energy will tend to meet at certain common point.
As per Ray Noble, Solar PV specialist at Renewable Energy Association, the costs of solar energy and fossil fuel energy may become equal by 2013 only if the predictions associated with their costs are true. However, Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save Planet is of the view that these predictions are based on unrealistic price assumptions.
The other hindrance associated with the use of solar energy is that the people tend to have misconception about the costs associated with the solar energy thinking that the payback period is hundreds of year long, when in actuality it is about ten years. After this period all the electricity that they get is free of cost and they can make money out of it. So, even if the solar energy systems may seem too expensive in the initial stage, in the long run it tends to be cheaper.
Another hindrance related to the solar energy equipments is the space occupied by them. Even in this regards, with the advancement of the technology the size of the solar panels is reducing and nano solar panels are now available in the market. They are mounted on the fabric making them flexible and easy to move from one place to the other. Thus soon we may have solar panels that can be used to power multiple equipments like domestic appliances, heaters, vehicles etc.
The payback from solar equipments and the flexibility of the solar panels can bring many advantages for the solar users. In fact initial price parity between the solar and fossil fuel energy can be easily offset by the above two advantages offered by the solar panels. In the years to come not only the solar panels or PV cells will become cheaper, but they will also become portable sources of energy that can be used anywhere for any application. Soon you can have your laptop or mobile powered by the nano solar PV cells so while on your vacation you can sit on the seashores for hours together chatting on your laptop connected to the nano solar PV cells absorbing the light from the sun. You won’t have to worry about charging point sorts of complicated wiring system when you have nano solar panel with you. These sorts of advantages cannot be obtained from conventional fossil fuel system and so what if we have to pay something extra for it for few more years! In fact in the years to come the use of solar energy will become so much that the sun may start feeling the heat.