How Solar Compares: Maintenance and Operations

Part Two in a Three-Part Series

In the first part of this series, we took a look at different sources for energy production and how they compare when it comes to development costs. This time, we will look at how they compare in terms of operating and maintaining the different types of plants compared to their energy output. The information we present is available through the United States Energy Information Association (USEIA). They keep an eye on energy production in the U.S., no matter the type of energy source. Some are too minor nationwide for consideration in this article, such as biomass or geothermal. We will therefore include references only to the top six (coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydroelectric, onshore wind, and solar). For more detailed information, you can read their report here.

Considering operation and maintenance costs over time, the USEIA discovered the following:

  • Natural gas was the most efficient with fixed costs, although the cost of natural gas itself fluctuates based on market forces.
  • Solar power comes in at a close second for operational efficiency. This is primarily because the costs to operate are consistent (sunshine being free).
  • Coal has much higher operating costs than natural gas or solar.
  • Onshore wind power is close to coal in operational costs. The need to maintain or replace finely machined moving parts is the greatest factor.
  • Nuclear power has some of the highest operating costs in the US.

Of course, the lower the cost to operate and maintain a facility, the less cost for the electricity consumer.

Are Your Solar Panels Part of a Team?

Many homes are set up to use natural gas for their stoves and heaters, and electricity for everything else. Using a combination of sources often allows for more efficient costs for the homeowner or business. Using SunPower solar panels, however, you can provide enough electricity to power every appliance in your home, including those for cooking and heating.

To find out if a team effort of natural gas and solar is best for your home, or solar power by itself, give Solaron a call or fill out our online form for more information. In the meantime, we will discuss other ways that solar power compares in our next article.

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