ManagEnergy – Renewable Energy

Solar Vs Coal – Which is Better?




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Solar power is the most common form of alternative energy today, but it is only one of many options out there. There is also wind power, which is the most abundant form of energy, and coal.

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Solar vs. Coal – Which is Better?

The debate over which energy source is better – solar or coal – has been ongoing for some time now, and the answer is still up for debate. On one hand, coal has been used as a reliable source of energy for centuries, but its environmental impacts are increasingly being seen as too high to be sustainable in the long-term. On the other hand, solar energy offers a renewable, clean energy source that can help us meet our electricity needs without causing harm to the environment. So which is better? Let’s take a closer look at both sides of the equation.

When it comes to cost, coal still reigns supreme compared to solar energy – according to current estimates, burning coal costs roughly half as much per kilowatt hour than generating electricity from solar panels. But while this may make it cheaper in the short term, the cost of mining and transporting coal can quickly add up over time, not to mention its environmental impacts such as air pollution and hazardous waste disposal.

In contrast, solar energy offers many advantages over its traditional counterpart: it’s renewable, meaning we’ll never run out of it; its installation requires minimal upfront investments; and most importantly, there are no harmful emissions associated with harnessing power from sunlight. Additionally, recent advances in technology have made it possible for much of our electricity needs to be met through rooftop installations like solar panels on our homes and business buildings – further reducing costs and reducing our reliance on coal-fired plants.

So what’s the verdict when weighing up solar vs. coal? Ultimately it comes down to making an informed decision based on your specific requirements – but from an environmental standpoint alone there’s strong evidence that suggests relying solely on coal-generated electricity isn’t a sensible option in the long-term if we want to protect our planet for future generations.


Solar and wind energy production costs are edging out coal. These cheaper alternatives are not only meeting the growing demands for electricity, they are saving the planet by reducing the CO2 emissions that cause climate change.

The cost of solar and wind power is falling fast. Prices are expected to drop even further in the coming years. LCOE (levelized cost of energy) calculations show that renewables are a cost-effective solution to meeting our energy needs. It includes the upfront capital and development costs of building a facility as well as financing and maintenance fees.

In Europe, the average costs of building new wind and solar farms are lower than the cost of operating existing natural gas and coal plants. By 2021, the typical running costs for coal plants are estimated to be $70/MWh.

The LCOE of a new, unsubsidized utility-scale solar project is estimated to be between $32 and $25/MWh. This is less than half the cost of a new nuclear plant. Community solar projects are built on a smaller scale than utility-scale facilities.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that the costs of solar and wind technologies have been decreasing rapidly in the last few years. According to the IEA, the global weighted-average levelized cost of electricity is down 9% in 2019 from a year earlier.

The cost of a solar farm in China, for example, is estimated at $34/MWh, while the typical running costs for a coal plant are estimated to be $35/MWh. New onshore wind costs are estimated at around half the cost of keeping many coal-fired power plants in operation.

If we replaced all of the existing coal-fired capacity in the US, we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as three gigatonnes per year. That would mean stopping 20% of the CO2 emissions needed by 2030. Combined, solar and onshore wind would undercut up to 91% of the US’s current capacity.

As these technologies become more affordable, the cost of building and operating new clean energy projects will continue to fall. It’s an attractive solution that will also create jobs.


Solar power and coal are both sources of energy. But which is better?

Unlike coal, solar can store the power you get from the sun, and then use it later, when the sun isn’t shining. This is known as “thermal storage.” It’s important to understand how thermal storage works.

The heat that you get from the sun is used to turn turbines that create electricity. This process is called concentrating solar power, or CSP. You can also use this energy for industrial process heating.

Generally speaking, a CSP plant uses heat transfer fluid and a liquid salt mixture. It also requires a large area to concentrate the light. For this reason, CSP plants are expensive to set up and operate. They are also wasteful.

For comparison, a conventional coal-fired power plant costs less than $12 per megawatt-hour to operate. However, it can only convert 30 percent of its potential energy. So it’s unlikely that a CSP will compete with a coal power plant anytime soon.

In terms of efficiency, a CSP is much more efficient than an average coal-fired power plant. A typical solar panel is about 15% efficient.

A new solar power tower or heliostat plant can be built for less than half the cost of a comparable coal-fired plant. Yet, solar and wind accounted for nearly 60% of all new electric generation in 2014.

While a CSP plant may be more efficient than an average coal plant, it’s not necessarily cheaper. That’s because it uses a lot of materials that aren’t recyclable. Plus, its storage system is very expensive.

On the other hand, a solar-coal hybrid power plant offers an economical way to make use of mid-temperature solar heat. In addition to being cheap, it can be combined with steam-based power plants to offer more flexibility.

As a result of the declining costs of CSP plants and the potential for carbon neutral synthetic fuels production, this technology is expected to become a commercial reality in the near future. With the help of R&D, these technologies may eventually be able to rival fossil fuels.

The best part is that the benefits of using solar and wind to generate electricity are only expected to grow. While they won’t replace coal in the near future, they’ll help to ensure a cleaner, more secure energy grid for the foreseeable future.

Daytime pricing

The cost of daytime solar in your backyard has been declining for years and is now more affordable than coal power. However, solar isn’t the only renewable energy source to make headlines. Other technologies, like biofuels and hydrogen power, also make waves in the industry. Several countries are putting in place regulations and incentives to encourage a wider adoption of such technologies. Despite this, there are still countries like China where solar is not a commercially viable option.

In the US, utility-scale solar can cost upwards of $26 per watt of installed power. This is not only cheaper than the tens of millions that it would take to build conventional fossil fuel power plants, but it also translates into a net savings to your pocketbook. Some companies, like Xcel, are even retiring their coal plants before their scheduled retirement dates.

The LCOE (lifetime cost of electricity) for coal in most parts of the country is a mere 4% above the industry average. But the same is not true for new onshore and offshore wind. On the flipside, the LCOE for new nuclear and gas peaking power stations are surprisingly high.

A good rule of thumb is that the cost of building a new solar photovoltaic plant is higher than a comparable size onshore and offshore wind power plant, but it is cheaper than the average new coal plant. With this in mind, the question of whether or not to retire a coal plant is a moot point. Although coal remains the largest contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of renewables has risen more slowly than the cost of coal. Moreover, there is a strong case for phasing out coal in favor of more efficient and renewable alternatives. As such, the best strategy for reducing global warming is to phase out coal and embrace renewables. For example, in Indiana, NIPSCO is planning to replace 1.8 gigawatts of old school coal with newer, cleaner alternatives. By 2020, the utility will have gone completely renewable. To keep things on track, it is reportedly building a “green” fleet of buses and taxis, and will be using green fuels.

IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2020

The IEA released its World Energy Outlook (WEO) for 2020. This new report examines the prospects for rapid clean energy transitions. It draws on thousands of data points. In addition, the report incorporates several scenarios.

For the first time in history, coal will account for less than 20% of the world’s energy consumption. Coal will be replaced by renewables and natural gas. Oil will still be the largest primary energy source, but it will decline by one-third by 2040.

Solar and wind power are the fastest-growing technologies. They account for 80% of the increase in electricity demand over the next decade. The IEA sees them becoming a larger share of the electricity sector.

Coal is expected to continue to fall in Europe, while it will barely grow in India. But the IEA expects continued rapid retirements of old coal capacity in the US and in the developing economies of Asia.

The IEA forecasts that global energy demand will be a fifth lower in 2020 than in 2018. Global CO2 emissions will drop by 45% by 2030. Combined with efficiency gains, the WEO says that global energy demand will plateau. A key factor is the emergence of a new global energy economy.

The IEA report outlines a number of scenarios for the future of global energy. It includes the so-called “delayed recovery” scenario, which shows the effect of a slow global economy recovery. The impact of COVID-19 is examined in a separate section.

The IEA report suggests that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for many years. It also shows that a “stated policies” scenario assumes that COVID-19 will be controlled by 2020. It also assumes that governments will continue to pursue their climate and energy targets.

Coal would continue to decline by the mid-2040s, while oil, natural gas, and nuclear would be on track for net-zero emissions by 2050. However, solar would rise in prominence and become cheaper than new coal plants.

The report is a powerful argument for a shift to a new energy future. However, the document is also a reminder that the world is facing major economic, political, and technological uncertainties.

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