Typically, coal is the source of energy in power production in the United States. Coal is burned to produce steam, which in turn drives a generator to produce electricity. It requires a complex and costly grid to deliver electricity to the source of use. The burning of coal is a significant source of air pollution and greenhouse gases.
The costs of a kilowatt hour of electricity can vary dramatically depending on its power source, seasonal and long term demand, and the distance from the power source to point of consumption. As the true costs of using fossil fuels, including the remediation of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are reflected in the production of on-grid electricity, average costs are expected to increase.
Solar energy is truly a green technology for electricity production.
Solar cells use the power in the sun’s rays and convert it directly into electrical energy. The solar cells can be used to create power in close proximity to the point of consumption – making the distribution of solar energy in many applications efficient relative to its production source.
Solar energy is an “off-grid” source of power that has wide applications, particularly where conventional sources of power are not available and it is too costly to run lines to connect to the electric power grid. Solar panel efficiency improvements, along with lower component production costs are expected to lower the “total costs of operation” for solar produced energy in the future.
A typical solar powered electrical application consists of the following components: