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Why home solar works better than solar power plants

If you’re thinking about making the switch to clean energy, but are waiting for a community solar farm to pop up in your area or a utility company to construct a massive project that harvests the sun, might want to think again.

 

But first, let’s talk about Blockbuster. Remember them? That blue and yellow chain of video rental stores that could be found in nearly every suburban neighborhood in the 90s?

 

FILE - This March 17, 2010, file photo, shows a closing Blockbuster stores in Racine, Wis. Dish Network announced Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, it will close the remaining 300 Blockbuster locations scattered across the United States. Dish Network expects the stores to be closed by early January. Dish Network says about 2,800 people will lose their jobs. (AP Photo/Journal Times, Scott Anderson, File)

FILE – This March 17, 2010, file photo, shows a closing Blockbuster stores in Racine, Wis. Dish Network announced Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, it will close the remaining 300 Blockbuster locations scattered across the United States. Dish Network expects the stores to be closed by early January. Dish Network says about 2,800 people will lose their jobs. (AP Photo/Journal Times, Scott Anderson, File)

 

Yeah, I barely do, either. And that’s because when the internet changed the way people consumed movies, the behemoth company stubbornly refused to shift its model of distribution.  

 

With the conversion rates of people switching to solar becoming more common across the globe, we’ve begun to notice a similar flub on the part of large scale solar production plants.   

 

While these grand undertakings are exponentially better for the environment than their carbon emitting alternatives, recent problems with such projects prove the energy source is much better suited to be captured by autonomous individuals than in concentrated areas on large tracts of land.

 

This past March a sector of Ivanpah, one of the world’s largest solar power plants, emphasized this point as it went up in flames.

 

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With nearly 200,000 sets of focused mirrors superheating steam to generate electricity and tons of small moving parts, it was a difficult (and expensive) project to keep running smoothly. Add to this the sprawling 3,500 acres of land it takes to house the plant and you’ve racked up a bill costing nearly 20 cents per a kilowatt hour.

 

Photovoltaic home solar systems on the other hand are much more scalable, only require rooftops or backyards as necessary real estate and have the advantage of making electricity where it is used–reducing its kilowatt per hour cost down to 6 cents or less.

 

When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking about how the public produces, access and consumes electricity.

 

Author: Harold Tan

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