Coal vs Solar – Environmental and Economical Effects
Spend a little time searching the web and you will find a thousand data centers across the United States that are energy hogs powered by coal-fired electricity. And the reason why is no mystery — coal is one of the world’s most plentiful energy source. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, Texas, the United States has 25 percent of the world’s known coal reserves. The movement that compares coal vs solar is gaining momentum.
With all of the competition in commerce it is challenging to maintain profitability, so rather than spending money on expensive energy investments, many corporations use aging coal-fired plants for their energy source. These coal-fired plants have been in existence for decades and emit a great deal of toxic sulfur into the atmosphere.
What effect does coal energy have on our health and our environment?
The consequences of coal-fired energy are severe to both the environment and to our health. Whenever coal is burned, gases are given off and particles of ash, called “fly ash,” are released. The sulfur in coal combines with oxygen to form sulfur dioxide, which can be a major source of air pollution if emitted in large quantities. A recent study stated that health problems linked to aging coal-fired power plants shorten nearly 24,000 lives per year in the United States, including 2,800 from lung cancer.
Who is investing in renewable energy, such as solar?
Many companies are. And the reasons as well as the benefits are numerous.
Google, for example, recently announced a $168 million investment in Brightsource Energy’s Ivanpah solar power plant in the Mojave desert in California. The solar farm will have a capacity of 392 MW. According to Google, that is comparable to “taking more than 90,000 cars off the road over the lifetime of the plant, projected to be more than 25 years.”
Large Companies Enter Solar
GE joins the long list of large companies trying to enter solar: AU Optronics, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Intel, Toshiba and more. General Electric announced last week that it plans to build the largest solar plant in the U.S. The overall investment by GE will be $600 million. And GE has announced that within five years, its target sales within the solar industry is $1 billion.
Dominant Solar Market Share
But so far, Chinese solar companies and First Solar have been able to maintain dominant market share. That being said, however, it is important to note that GE is an impressive industrial company, with remarkable experience and large market position in traditional gas and nuclear. It is refreshing to see corporate giants such as Google and GE investing vast amounts of capital in renewable solar power markets.
Long-term effects of renewable energy
A major benefit of substituting biomass for fossil fuels is that, if done in a sustainable fashion, it would greatly reduce emissions of greenhouses gases. Additionally, there are economical effects of growth in the renewable energy market.
Renewable Energy Increases Competition
In simplistic terms, renewable energy reduces the need for large, centralized sources and, therefore reduce the opportunity for market dominance by a few firms.
We need smart capital to transform our energy sector and build a clean energy future. Kudos to Google and GE for leading the way.