For decades, the United States has run primarily on fossil fuels. This is because it was cheap, relatively easy to extract, and had an incredibly high-power factor when combusted. Recently, however, clean energy resources such as solar and wind power have begun to take a bigger share of the power generation sector. Many suspects that this trend will continue well into the future until and eventually lead into all power sources being generated from clean energy resources. So why is it estimated that clean energy will define the future?
Falling costs of supplies
In 1975, the cost to install solar panels was more than $100 per installed watt. Today, the installed cost of solar panels is hovering right around forty cents per watt. This incredible drop in price of renewable energy technology is what has attracted the attention of an increasing number of consumers. There is no reason to believe why this trend will not continue. As this price continues to fall, the financial viability of clean energy projects will be too much for consumers to pass up.
Extended lifespan of supplies
As the underlying technology of clean energy improves, the useful life of these products is extended. Just a few decades ago, the useful lifespan of a solar panel was at best 20 years. This meant that after 20 years the panel would still be producing up to 80% of its originally rated power. So, a 200-watt solar panel would still be producing 160 watts of power after 20 years. Currently, this time frame has been extended to 30 years and in some extreme cases, even 35 years. As panels are rated to last longer, more consumers will feel better about making the transition to clean energy.
Legislation supporting renewable energy
More and more state governments are passing legislation to support clean energy growth. One way that this can be done is through the adoption of a renewa ble energy portfolio standard (RPS). RPS is a law which requires the utilities within a state to source a certain percentage of their power from clean energy resources. As more states establish and expand their RPS program, there will be more of a financial incentive to adopt clean energy systems.
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Minimizing time of use charges
In some utilities, consumers are subject to what is known as the time of use charges. This means that the price you pay for energy fluctuates throughout the day. When demand is higher, your cost rises and when demand is lower, your cost falls as well. This can quickly create excessively high electric bills, especially for commercial energy consumers. Because clean energy generation allows customers to produce their own power, they can greatly reduce their time of use charges. This is especially true when solar is paired with a battery storage system. This allows inexpensive power to be stored in the battery at night and then be discharged during peak pricing hours saving the customer thousands every year.
Long-term energy contracts
So is solar energy renewable? Because the cost of fuel for clean energy is free, it is indeed renewable. It is also much more predictable to find out what the total cost of energy will be over the lifetime of the energy project. Assuming that energy generation estimations have been done correctly, long-term energy contracts can be executed which will guarantee energy costs over a term of 25 years or greater. This will allow residential customers or commercial clients to be able to much better estimate energy costs over time. This allows them to much better forecast total expenditures for the year and minimize the possibility of overspending. With traditional energy generation, fluctuating fuel costs can cause the time of use energy payments to go through the roof.
Clean energy adoption has been slowly building its share of the energy sector. The future will be defined by a growing clean energy sector which will ultimately lead to a better tomorrow.