The Impacts Of Solar Energy On Daily Life

1227 words - 5 pages

Everyday life now requires the constant use of energy for everything humans do; from powering the lights, to running the dishwasher, and communicating with others through devices such as cell phones. With all of this technology the energy to power them currently comes mainly from fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, and oil. But what would the impact be if solar energy was used to replace some of those fossil fuels? A look at how solar photovoltaic (PV) energy impacts purchased electrical energy costs, capital investment in energy generation and distribution, and pollution related to energy generation and distribution in the modern world will show that solar photovoltaic energy has a positive impact on human lives.
First a look at energy costs. Energy costs are rising year after year due to the cost of labor, fuel, overhead, and maintenance required to keep up with the vast demand of energy. Power companies have found a way to recover their rising costs by increasing consumer rates and surcharges. The typical household today has an electrical rate that is over fifty percent energy charge in order to cover these fuel, labor, and administration costs (Xcel Energy). Up to five percent of this rate goes to government regulation costs. These costs are considered variable charges because they change over time. Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke states, “Renewable energy is an excellent way to protect customers from high fuel costs” (8). Point of use solar PV systems produce energy where it will be used and have only ongoing maintenance charges as a variable cost. This cost is usually minimal because the average warranty on most solar PV systems is twenty to twenty-five years (Xcel Energy). Once installed, point of use solar PV systems have essentially no variable costs and so they have very stable overall energy costs. The size of solar PV systems is very important too. A correctly sized solar PV system can make a site virtually energy neutral, meaning that the energy produced does not fall short of or exceed that of what the site uses. Peaks and poor generation days are still subject to the variable costs of fossil fuels, but it is now only a fraction of the total energy cost of the site. Point of use or distributed PV has a positive impact through relatively stable energy costs or even revenue generation if the PV system is large enough.
Capital cost is the second thing to consider when looking at solar PV compared to fossil fuel generated electricity. Both solar PV and fossil fuel generated energy require capital investment. The solar PV investment is typically smaller because it is not oversized for extremely large peaks or due to redundancy. Solar PV does not have moving parts that wear out or require replacement, and point of use solar PV does not require a huge distribution network that includes power lines, switchgear, and transformers that make up nine percent of the average residential customer costs (Xcel Energy). A program...

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