How Does Solar Stack Up Against Coal?
So how does solar stack up against coal? If you ignore theexternalities then coal power is cheap, but not for long as a couple ofthings happen:
- We’re going to start running out of the easy stuff to get
- We’re going to internalize some of the true costs of coal power.
I won’t go into detail about the coal supply in America but sufficeto say that when someone tells you there are abundant coal reserveshere, ask them how many are recoverable. The truth is that most coalproduction areas are depleted or on the way and America now sources 40%of its coal from one small river basin in Wyoming.
Powder River Basin (PRB) has 13 big mines but none of them will be viable in 20 years, interms of producing coal at a cost structure that makes sense. The mainproblem is the stripping ratio, or amount of ground that needs to beremoved to get to the coal. The market is already reflecting some of Old King Coal’s problems as per these facts:
1. The delivered price of coal increased 3 times faster than inflation in the past 5 years
2. The cost of transporting PRB coal is 3 times greater than Its mining costs
3. Oil has twice the impact of mining on the cost of delivered PRB coal
4. States dependent on coal had the highest electricity price increases in the past 5 years
5. US coal mining productivity peaked in 2000 and declined 20% since
Remember that all of this is happening against a backdrop of solarpower’s costs falling precipitously. The only real question remainingis how long will coal be competitive?
Not for long. Indeed, you could not start on a new coal fired powerplant in America today and have it up and running before it was moreexpensive than a solar plant.
Another reason this is a good change (aside from the climatebenefits, saving the land from being blown up, and protecting ourchildren from asthma) is that photovoltaics create more jobs than coalper kilowatt hour of power provided.
So our time in the sun is not done – we just have to bring it on.We’re very quickly realizing that coal is a pretty inefficient way tostore the energy in sunlight. Digging it up and burning it to boil water is even more inefficient as a way to make electricity. Humanity willincreasingly look up and access that same energy straight from thesource. If you ever want to go solar in your own life please do so withSungevity. You can get your free Sungevity iQuote today if you are in AZ, CA, CO, DE, MA, MD, NJ, or NY.
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Sungevity is proving that going solar is easy, a good investment, and a viable way to reduce carbon emissions.Sungevity specializes in installing home solar electric systems. Wecurrently install solar throughout the Bay Area, and with over 150sales last year, Sungevity was the leading installer in San Franciscoin 2008. Articles l Homepage
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