How Solar Compares

Comparing Power Plant Efficiencies

What are the main forms of electricity production in California? Natural gas is the primary type of power station, but one coal burning and one nuclear power plant are still in use here in the Golden State. Renewable energies like hydroelectric, onshore wind power, biomass, geothermal and solar power make up most of the rest. Because of intermingled issues like environmental concerns, production efficiency and cost, the debate over which type is best continues on, largely affected by market forces. In the next few articles, Solaron will take a look at reasons why photovoltaic electricity production is ultimately the better choice.

Development Costs of Energy Types

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the cost to develop energy using coal and nuclear power fluctuate, but continually increase. Onshore wind power typically decreases in cost over the years, but the cost of maintaining or replacing equipment due to wear and tear often counteracts that benefit, to some degree. Hydroelectric power suffers a similar issue. Interestingly, natural gas power plants tend to decrease in cost as production technology improves. The cost of developing a major solar power plant, however, declines over twice as much as natural gas over time!
When it comes to technology advancement, solar power is leaving the rest behind. There is just more upside and potential to the remaining options available in the photovoltaic field. Better solar cells, more productive materials, and more efficient configurations result in higher and higher efficiencies. Therefore, over time a single solar panel becomes more efficient at capturing energy from the sun and then converting it into electrons for use by the power grid.

Looking at Solar Power from a Different Angle

Here’s a realistic scenario: if you’re going to build a solar power plant, you expect to install a certain number of panels. As you plan and build your facility, more efficient panels become available. Now you can choose between installing fewer panels or producing more panel with the same number of panels. You also have the option to incrementally swap out panels for newer models later on, without shutting down the facility. Other types of power plants have a much more difficult time making such upgrades in efficiency and output.

When it comes to better solar panels, SunPower continues to lead the race. They continue developing better photovoltaic cells, leading to higher-quality solar panels that produce more electricity. Solaron only uses SunPower systems on every photovoltaic installation we do in Sacramento and Northern California.

In the next article, we will investigate a cost comparison on how much it takes to keep these energy producers running, detailing more information about the costs of operation and maintenance.

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