NORFOLK, Virginia — In the ongoing debate on energy production, arguments claiming that the price of renewable energy technology is too expensive to expand are frequently employed in favor of fossil fuel industries. On the other hand, environmentalists assert that developing clean, renewable energy is necessary due to growing complications provided by climate change.
While the lack of economic viability has been a significant reason for increasing renewable energy production, studies show that particularly in solar energy production, costs are actually significantly cheaper than the average person might expect.
A Bloomberg New Energy Finance report indicates that the price of solar energy production in watts decreased from $76.67 in 1977 per watt to $0.74 per watt in 2013. Research and development in solar energy technologies are also allowing for prices to decrease at an exponential rate.
Since 2000, the price of solar production per watt was cut in half.
Advancements in solar technology are also integral to competing with the fossil fuel industry and ushering in a carbon emission- free economy. It embodies an industry that is ripe for expansion as the many areas of the world (especially in developing countries) offer vast potential in solar resources.
Studies suggest that renewable technologies such as in solar energy will continue to decrease in price as competition in solar markets increase. Both environmental and economic climate change impacts are expected to make fossil fuel divestment and renewable energy investment necessary. If the world is to meet its goal in limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2020, up to 80 percent of fossil fuels will have to remain in the ground. As a result, large-scale international investments in solar energy have already been made.
So far, plans to build the largest Latin American solar plant in Mexico, the largest African solar plant in Ghana and the world’s largest solar plant in India, have been proposed.
They represent the growing movement towards addressing climate change impacts across the globe. With global advancements in the solar industry, increased competition has produced cheaper prices of installment. As a result, expanding energy production from solar has a very successful means in providing widespread access to energy across a rapidly growing population.
In the United States, the political arena has been faced with extensive discourse on various sources of production. With the proposed expansions in carbon-emitting infrastructure such as hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and transportation pipelines for crude oil, the expansion of the solar industry comes at a time of significant opportunity.
Clean energy demands have truly grown across the globe. In the U.S., the solar market grew 76 percent from 2011 to 2012; over 16 million solar panels were installed across the nation.
Solar energy therefore provides an increasingly viable social, economic and environmental solution to many problems that the contemporary world faces.
Continuing to expand and develop the solar industry would allow for smaller businesses to enter markets and jobs in clean energy to be available. It would allow for developing nations to move away from energy production from sources that require the exploitation of the ecosystem—which, in turn, causes social decline. Finally, it would cease exacerbating the problem of climate change as the fossil fuel industry has done with greenhouse gas emissions.
Sources: Cost of Solar, University of the District of Columbia, Take Part, Think Progress, Penn Energy
Photo: Go Sun Stove