The Future looks Bright as Sun for Solar Power in Ohio Texas

In response to the Dispatch editorial “Bad idea gets worse,” while I am not familiar with the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative, I do know quite a bit about solar power, which the editorial broadly mischaracterizes.

The editorial describes alternative energy sources as “more expensive and less efficient and reliable than traditional sources.” The sun is very reliable. It shines every day. If it is cloudy here, it is generally sunny within a couple hundred miles, and electricity is transportable through the grid. Demand for electricity is lower at night when solar power isn’t available. Solar panels require little or no maintenance.

As for solar being more expensive and unable to attract investors, the editorial is woefully out of date. Solar is still a small fraction of our national energy production, but 53 percent of the new generating capacity in the United States during the first half of this year was solar. Why? The cost of solar has been dropping rapidly. Residential installation costs have dropped 45 percent since 2010, while the price for panels has dropped to less than $1 per watt.

The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that some recent utility-scale contracts have been below $0.04/kwh. This is lower than coal and natural gas. Meanwhile, direct subsidies for fossil fuels are near $40 billion per year, while the direct government subsidies for solar power are around $4 billion per year.

Additionally, the cost of fossil fuels can only climb. There may be short-term reprieves caused by market gluts, as is currently the case for oil. But the reality is that all of the low-hanging fruit (from a cost perspective) already have been extracted, and some of the supply will continue to be consumed to make plastics and lubricants, etc.

Renewables, particularly solar, are winning the competition for best sources of energy because they are both clean and cost effective. Money spent on an all-of-the-above strategy is wasted. Economically and environmentally, that is a losing game, compared with using the same money to deploy renewable energy technology that is affordable and ready to go.



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