Posts Tagged ‘Oil’
Uncertain oil supplies under pressure of changing world political situations suggests that solar energy investments represent an excellent area for growth and excellent returns. The predictions over global warming and ever-increasing CO2 levels are driving an expansion in the interest of renewable energy such as solar energy. The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster is demanding a new critical look at the danger of nuclear power, particularly nuclear fission. Besides that, the disaster involving British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico similarly raises questions about the sustainability of natural, non-renewable resources like coal, oil and natural gas and their impact on the global environment. Solar energy is considered a very safe way to produce electricity compared with the many generation technologies that are in use presently. When firms or countries plan for their future energy needs, solar energy begs a very careful analysis from the standpoint of returns on investment.
It may be a good idea to look at some details about trends in the cost of PV (photovoltaic) panels. The costs for these have steadily gone down over the last several years. The costs are now almost the same as the costs to build and operate a conventional power plant. The cost for PV panels should continue decline as new manufacturing methods and efficiencies impact the costs. By comparison, it is very hard to predict trends in crude oil prices over a 10-15 year period, since the political situation is so closely tied to the supply of this resource. You should note that electric power derived from PV panels is a scalable and modular technology. The same panels are used to build small power generation systems for individual homes, yet can be scaled up to be large many-acre solar farms. The panels are simply combined like building blocks to form the needed scale. The panels produced in factories are the same for all such applications. This kind of scalable modularity is not found in other energy technologies. Conventional fossil-fueled power plants must be specially designed and built, something that can’t be done quickly. This scalable modularity permits a large-scale solar farm to be constructed rapidly and with relatively low labor costs.
When the sun goes down, energy demand goes up, and new storage technologies that permit the daytime peak generating capacity to be stored for peak evening consumption also open up additional opportunities for solar energy investments in a various ancillary storage technologies that are also being developed to fill the demand.