By Rachel Wingenbach
GJWHG Guest Contributor
Looking at the dismal outcome of wind energy, what does this mean for solar energy? Is solar power showing more promise; economically, no. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration the cost of solar PV (the same type of solar panels that my university has purchased) is priced at $152.70 per megawatt hour and solar thermal (my university has purchased these as well) is priced at $242.00 per megawatt hour.
The capacity factor of solar PV is only 25% and solar thermal has only a 20% capacity factor. Another problem that arises is that solar companies such as Battery Maker A123 Systems Inc., and Solyndra are constantly being subsidized by the federal government. Both of these companies received millions of dollars of federal money and then filed for bankruptcy shortly after. Why are these companies not able to stay in business AFTER receiving millions of dollars? The government should realize that our country doesn’t have the money to spend on bankrupt solar companies.
The current system for regulating and promoting green energy in the United States—government mandates—also seems to be causing a problem. New Jersey for example passed a mandate that states that by 2021, 23% of their electricity will come from renewable sources, most of which will be derived from solar. They began with a $515 million investment to put up 220 watt solar panels on telephone poles.
This initial investment will provide power for about 3,250 homes, which is about $158,000 spent per home. The average electric bill in the United States is about $1,260 a year. This means, without raising prices, it will take the state of New Jersey 125 years to break even. The worst part is that these panels have a life span of 25 to 30 years meaning that no matter what, the state will be losing money. These solar panels, once complete, will only provide about 1% of the state’s electricity. New Jersey will still need a way to create 22% more energy from renewable resources. Whose brilliant idea was this again?
It doesn’t matter if you are a college student working your way through school or a hard working citizen trying to provide for your household, we all flip the bill for green energy. In a college setting, students’ tuition money is used to pay for solar panels and wind turbines, that don’t provide sufficient amounts of energy, so that the university can earn the “green” title and be rewarded by the government for their progressive actions.
As for the rest of the country’s population, they are being charged more to make up for the money power companies lose because of government mandates. Green energy is a wonderful idea but the technology is not advanced enough to even begin to replace fossil fuels at a national level. The government should not be requiring companies to include this inadequate technology into their business plans, because when the government puts its hands into business, we all pay the price.
Rachel is a student at the University of Minnesota, Morris studying pre-med and chemistry. Born and raised in North Dakota she has been around guns her entire life and is not afraid to speak her mind about her support of the Second Amendment. She has written many articles for her university’s alternative paper and is currently its managing editor.