One of the most exciting possibilities for future solar energy technology is that of solar cells that can be sprayed or printed on to surfaces like the windows of skyscrapers, the roofs of sports utility vehicles, or the walls of houses. And the expectation is that such technology would be far cheaper than today’s silicon-based solar panels.
Multiple studies are now reporting that wind and solar power are the cheapest way to make electricity in a growing number of places around the world. A thorough analysis of the levelized cost of energy – which considers every cost component from capital expenditures to operating and maintenance costs over a lifetime – shows that solar and wind power are winning the day.
There are many good reasons why we should be making the transition from fossil fuel energy sources but the one that is likely to be the most persuasive is strictly economic. It has long been said that the renewable energy future will truly arrive when installing new solar panels is cheaper than a comparable investment in coal, natural gas, or other options.
Wind power is a growing contributor to the energy grid but it has its limitations. Wind turbines need to be located in windy places and the structures are big, get in the way of things, and are rather costly.