When oil and gas prices drop, as they are doing now, people’s interest in solar energy seems to drop as well. That’s because solar has been more costly.
But that’s changing. In the U.S., solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 US states … in 2016. (That’s assuming the U.S. maintains its 30 percent tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire that same year.) Solar is already coming out ahead in 10 US states.
The reason solar-power generation will increasingly dominate: it’s a technology, not a fuel. As a result, efficiency increases and prices fall as time goes on. The faster the price of solar energy falls, the more viable it becomes as a source of clean power — and the sooner we’ll see it on roofs everywhere.
Solar is also destined to be the world’s biggest single source of electricity by 2050, according to a recent estimate by the International Energy Agency.
Clean Energy Review recently published a great photo essay by Joan Sullivan looking at how wind turbine blades are built. Here’s an exerpt:
Birth of a Blade
PowerBlades opened last year in Welland, Ont, to support the growth in renewable energy in Ontario spurred in turn by the province’s Green Energy Act. As of October, the company will have fabricated 78 fiberglass blades, each 45 meters long and up to three meters wide, for dozens of 2.05 MW Senvion turbines. Each turbine generates energy to light up about 1,000 homes.
Inside PowerBlades, overhead cranes move girders and blades from one part of the building to the next. Here, 136 production workers, machine operators, and office staff work on various stages of blade production, including lay-up, lamination, curing, sanding, painting, inspection, repair, finishing, loading, and transport.
Blades begin their lives in the plant’s Main Shell Area, where workers lay sheets of fiberglass mat and resin into a pair of side-by-side proprietary molds each about 50 meters long and four meters wide. Each blade is built up in two halves, split down the long axis like a pea pod….