Solar energy vs. natural gas fired power plants.

The Price of Solar Energy Versus Natural Gas Power Plants

Solar power is making a lot of headlines, particularly in regards to how much it actually costs. Solar prices have plummeted over the past several years, and it has led to increased adoption rates on both an individual, and industrial, scale. However, there is still a question as to whether or not solar energy can be had as cheaply as a traditional fuel like natural gas when it comes to power plants.

The answer is sometimes yes, but “sometimes” is steadily turning into “always”.

Rapid Changes in Solar Energy

Some places get more solar energy than others, and that’s just a fact of geography. However, in areas with a great deal of solar insolation (the amount of sun striking at peak volume throughout the day), the cost of solar power has already come on par with, or dipped below, the cost of natural gas. Texas is a good example, and as TreeHugger pointed out, solar has been the cheapest option there since 2014. The same is true of wind power in states like Oklahoma, according to The New York Times. Renewable resources are cheaper today than they’ve ever been before, and they’re only going to get cheaper as time goes on.

With that said, there are a lot of factors that figure into whether or not solar or natural gas will be used in a given area. If an area doesn’t receive a great deal of sunlight, then solar may not be the cheaper option. If there isn’t support from the local government in the form of tax credits and subsidies, then solar may have a more difficult time getting a foothold. However, it should be noted that more and more places are adopting solar energy, not because it’s green, but because it is cheaper. There’s no need to transport the power, it doesn’t cause pollution, and thanks to ever-increasing storage capacity, solar power is growing as reliable as any fossil fuel.

So, even if solar isn’t the cheapest option today in a given area, that may well change in the next few years thanks to continued development.