Why Solar Power is Not Widely Used

It was assumed for quite some time that solar power hasn't been more widely implemented into society for one very simple reason: price. When solar power first started being viewed as a possible alternative, fossil-fuel-based energy sources were considerably cheaper. Nobody thought twice as to why someone would choose fuels like coal or gas over solar when the potential savings were as clear as the sunny days they weren't drawing energy from.

In recent years, though, that's changed.

It's changed so much in fact that the cost of constructing a solar-power-based plant has dropped by 90% in the last decade. Natural gas prices have dropped in that time as well, but only by 32% in comparison. As it stands now, wind and solar-based power plants are the cheapest options available. Cheaper than nuclear, geothermal, gas, and coal.

So then why is solar still not widely used?

Well, that comes down to existing policies and infrastructures that are still very much in favor of a reliance on fossil fuels. While the cheapest option for constructing a brand new power plant is solar or wind, that doesn't apply to plants that have already been built and equipped to handle other forms of energy. Converting those plants to ones that focus on clean and renewable energies would cost so much that it's more profitable for those companies to just keep using coal or gas.

On top of that, many power plants have current contracts with utility suppliers and mining operations that, in their eyes, aren't worth the effort of renegotiating. Restructuring the entire energy infrastructure, unfortunately, isn't as easy as flipping a switch.

Then you also have to consider the natural limitations of solar as well. The amount of usable daily daylight to draw energy from varies quite a bit based on geographic location, time of year, and weather patterns. The inconsistency of the sunlight throughout the year deters many energy producers from taking the leap.

That's not to say these issues can't be overcome, however. Recent advancements in solar power storage through the use of batteries can go a long way towards providing a more reliable stream of energy.

None of this is meant to indicate that solar power won't ever be more widely used. With the more widespread adoption of electric vehicles, rising prices at the gas pump, and a societal push to be more conscientious about our environment, it may only be a matter of time until solar power becomes a primary source of energy.