Solar vs Other Sources of Energy

Sustainability is the need of the hour to tackle our growing energy needs. To make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions energy is one of the fundamental areas we need to work on. By shifting towards renewable sources, nuclear and relying less on natural resources we can decarbonize the energy systems. It is important to harness them correctly and make maximum use of the capacity. Out of all the energy sources available solar energy seems to be the best option in terms of availability, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility. Theoretically, solar energy possesses the potential to adequately fulfill the energy demands of the entire world if technologies for its harvesting and supplies were readily available

Solar Energy vs Fossil Fuels

Solar Energy has officially become the cheapest electricity in history. Going solar is a real game saver in the long term. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Electricity from fossil fuels costs between 5 cents and 17 cents per kilowatt-hour. Off Grid solar energy costs around 20 cents per kilo watt hour but the cost is coming down. The most significant advantage of fossil fuel is it is well developed and more reliable throughout the day and we had many years to perfect it. The full list of its disadvantages is fully not something new. Many people are already aware of the harm that coal, oil, and natural gas cause to the environment. While compared to solar energy even if they have a high-efficiency rate, they emit a lot of Carbon dioxide (CO2), they also contribute to another form of pollution and they are not available in the long run. Solar energy on the other hand is available in the long run and doesn’t produce CO2 at all. So solar seems the be a better alternative option to fossil fuels.

Solar Energy vs Other Renewable Energy

1. Biomass

Only three renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, and solar) can be utilized to yield sufficient heat energy for power generation. Of these three, solar energy exhibits the highest global potential. Since geothermal sources are limited to a few locations and the supply of biomass is not ubiquitous. The use of biomass, such as the burning of wood, waste, alcohol fumes, or landfill gases produces less waste energy than fossil fuels or coal. Unfortunately, biomass creates volatile organic compounds like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. The positive note is the amount of CO2 emissions is not as much as compared to fossil fuels.

Unlike biomass, solar doesn’t emit organic compounds and Bio mass is not as efficient as solar panels and the pants require a lot of space and as mentioned before it is not entirely clean like solar energy.

2. Geothermal

An estimated 0.1 GW of new geothermal power generating capacity came online in 2020, bringing the global total to around 14.1 GW. Both are renewable sources of energy but are used for different use. At the largest scales, solar and geothermal techniques can be used to generate clean, renewable electricity. However, for most residential and commercial property owners, geothermal energy can only be used as a heating and cooling solution, while solar energy can generate electricity with photovoltaic (PV) technology.

Moreover, geothermal is more location independent and has high installation costs. Geothermal powerplants emit small amounts CO2 unlike solar energy.

3. Hydropower

Hydropower uses fast running water to produce electricity or power machines. The global hydropower market grew in 2020, but China was responsible for more than half of capacity additions. here are several types of hydroelectric facilities; they are all powered by the kinetic energy of flowing water as it moves downstream. Turbines and generators convert the energy into electricity, which is then fed into the electrical grid to be used in homes, businesses, and by industry.

Hydro plants often change the natural flow of the waterways they take over, creating new lakes and reducing water flow downstream. These installations can also affect wildlife in the area, blocking fish migration and altering habitats. On the other hand, Photovoltaics don’t change the environment and its versatile compared to hydropower energy.

4. Wind Energy

Despite wind technology being in the market for a long time, it has experienced some issues. Wind power provides a substantial share of electricity in a growing number of countries. Wind turbines are much more. Significant advantages of wind energy include no pollution, they are relatively inexpensive. The electricity output is less compared to solar energy still longer blades are used to increase the output the downside is the decreasein the speed of the blades. They are costly to the surrounding wildlife. Despite the mentioned disadvantages, the world added a record of 93 GW of power capacity in 2020, this includes offshore wind farms too. added

5. Nuclear Energy

According to a recent industry report, nuclear power is losing ground to renewables in terms of both cost and capacity as its reactors are increasingly seen as less economical and slower to reverse carbon emissions. Solar Energy on the other hand has been exponentially growing since 2006. Annual solar PV capacity additions in 2020 grew 23% to almost 135 GW, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and it expects further scale up in the annual PV numbers for 2021 to grow to 145 GW and 162 GW in 2022.


The transition to solar is still a bit hard this is because fossil fuels are more reliable and cheaper. Nevertheless, given the ongoing consumption rate of fossil fuels, and to completely shift to zero carbon emissions, the world is reaching a point where there will be little choice in the matte


AE Solar Senior Engineer

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