Solar Energy Panels vs. Solar Electricity Plants

Description : 

Most people think of how we will use solar energy panels to become less reliant on fossil fuels in terms of solar power homes; every house would have its own array of photovoltaic panels and be individually energy independent. An electrical grid would allow people to sell any energy their home produced beyond what they need so that others could use it, but for the most part, each unit would function autonomously. Skeptics are quick to point out that this approach suffers from being too costly, if only because power plants offer economies of scale that allow them to generate electricity at a lower average cost. Fortunately, a solar electricity company could step in to deal with this problem.

Solar Energy Panels vs. Solar Electricity Plants

The obvious benefit of a solar power electricity company over individual homes building their own is it should cost less. One company that centralizes several solar energy panels in arrays can do the entire thing for a lower average cost per watt than individuals can for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is that they can build these plants in places that have above average amounts of direct sun so that the plants maximize solar cell utilization. And this lower cost also reflects higher efficiency, which is important for a project that aims to protect the environment. Better efficiency means lower consumption and less waste. For the individual consumer, this means both nearly no upfront cost and a better electricity price.

Types of Solar Power Plants

A few different types of solar power plants have been built. One planned for Arizona would install 1900 acres of solar panels to power up to 70,000 homes. The plans are based on using solar radiation to generate steam heat that then spins turbines. Another plant planned for southern Spain would use a different technology, also to create steam energy from solar radiation. Part of the reasons plans for solar plants eschew solar energy panels based on photovoltaic technology is that these panels have a lifetime of 20 to 30 years, and can require more attention than simpler technology. This makes the steam-based solar technology more appropriate when solar power will be harnessed en masse.

The drawbacks to this approach are significant, however. The biggest is that for people who want to convert to solar energy now, waiting the years necessary to design and build these large plants is not an option. Another is that it combines all the risk on one entity. If a better technology is developed while the plant is in construction, they either have to go ahead with a less efficient option or scrap the plants, accept the financial losses, and deal with having wasted those resources. However, if homes adopt solar panels at their own pace, solar conversion risk is spread out and averaged, which makes it a more financially reasonable strategy for conservation.

Solar energy panels lend themselves to a number of different alternative energy approaches. Solar power plants would be less costly to consumers due to a number of advantages. But that comes at a cost for those who are already prepared to make the conversion now.

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*by andreascy*