Solar power is a wonderfully sustainable source of energy and its biggest hurdle to wide adoption is cost (and going up against subsidized fossil fuels). Well, now the nuclear crowd can’t claim that solar is too expensive because the fact of the matter is that solar power is cheaper than nuclear!
It’s no secret that the cost of producing photovoltaic cells (PV) has been dropping for years. A PV system today costs just 50 percent of what it did in 1998. Breakthroughs in technology and manufacturing combined with an increase in demand and production have caused the price of solar power to decline steadily. At the same time, estimated costs for building new nuclear power plants have ballooned.
The result of these trends: “In the past year, the lines have crossed in North Carolina,” say study authors John Blackburn and Sam Cunningham. “Electricity from new solar installations is now cheaper than electricity from proposed new nuclear plants.”
If the data analysis is correct, the pricing would represent the “Historic Crossover” claimed in the study’s title.
Two factors not stressed in the study bolster the case for solar even more:
1) North Carolina is not a “sun-rich” state. The savings found in North Carolina are likely to be even greater for states with more sunshine –Arizona, southern California, Colorado, New Mexico, west Texas, Nevada and Utah.
2) The data include only PV-generated electricity, without factoring in what is likely the most encouraging development in solar technology: concentrating solar power (CSP). CSP promises utility scale production and solar thermal storage, making electrical generation practical for at least six hours after sunset.