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Solar Power: An Economically Viable Energy Source

Solar Power: An Economically Viable Energy Source

Since the 1973 oil embargo, oil price increases have been a concern for many nations, especially for the United States. Today's high fuel prices speak to the imperative to find alternative energy sources to fossil fuels. Solar power is one such potentially viable alternative. Why use solar power? In addition to its value as an environmentally ôcleanö source of energy, solar power has economic value in terms of being a renewable resource that can be controlled by the nation or region using it for energy. Also, the use of solar power fits well into the model of ôfree market environmentalismö advocated by Terry Anderson (Anderson, 1997). Solar power thus bears examination in light of Anderson's model.

How feasible is it to use solar power as an energy source? The use of solar power has been tested on a large scale by the experiment of Solar Two, a solar power tower plant (U.S. Department of Energy, 2004). Using sunlight to generate energy was shown to be mechanistically effective and may also be cost-effective. However, its cost effectiveness depends on a number of factors and also on how it is compared to the economics of traditional power plants, such as those using coal and natural g`s. In examining the economics of power generation, it is often difficult to separate out the actual costs from the effects of subsidies (Tchakerian, 2005). However, in the future, as fossil fuels become scarcer, the need to move to alternative energy sources such as solar power will become more pressing.

As with all new technologies, the progression towards using solar energy in conjunction with or as a replacement for traditional power sources û coal, natural gas, and nuclear-derived power û (Tchakerian, 2005), will take on more importance. Costs associated with new technologies and biases against embarking in a business that has not been extensively proven or tested for profitability make ...

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