In the words of Thomas Edison himself

Incredible Potential

The tremendous potential of the sun is not new news to us. Already in 1931 the genius Thomas Edison recognized the enormous power the great sun held.

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that”

– Thomas Edison

Green energy possibilities

Will we run out of coal & oil before we switch to solar energy?

The answer is simple, no. The world as a whole will certainly have switched to alternative energy sources before we literally run out of coal and oil. The main reason being that the extraction process will become way too expensive in the future.

SLCOE/LEC

The more important question

The more important question is will we make the switch to solar before greenhouse gas emissions have pushed the earth’s climate over the edge.

The global switch to solar energy over coal and oil, all depends on the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) aka the Levelized Energy Cost (LEC).

Solar becomes more affordable

The cost of solar energy

As discussed in our guide to how solar panels work, in 1954 Bell Industries created the first solar cell available to the public. However, the price was high at $300 per one watt of solar.

Just 65 years later, in the US you can buy one watt of solar for just $3.05.

In 1954 the equivalent of $300 is equal to $2,160 in todays age. Based on this, solar energy cost has dropped 700%.

Electricity Forecasts

2018 to 2022 electricity prices forecast

Below is the estimated levelized cost of electricity for new generation resources entering service in 2022.

Energy (plant type)LCOE ($2017 / MWh)
Wind, offshore$124.60
Biomass$102.20
Coal*$95.10
Advanced nuclear$90.10
Advanced combustion turbine$79.50
Hydroelectric (water)$73.90
Solar$59.10
Advanced combined cycle natural gas$48.10
Wind, onshore$48.00
Geothermal$43.10
27% by 2050

Slowly moving in the right direction

In the year 2017 approximately  442.6 TWh of energy was generated from solar power. That’s only 1.73% of the world’s total energy use.

However, solar energy production continues to grow each year by 35%! In fact, International Energy Agency predicted that solar energy would cater for 27 percent of world’s global energy requirements by 2050.

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