What Would it Cost for the U.S. to “Go Solar”?

Proponents of renewable energy claim that wind and solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels. According to USA Today, “Renewables close in on fossil fuels, challenging on price.” A Forbes headline agrees: “Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels.” The “expert” websites agree: “Renewable Electricity Levelized Cost Of Energy Already Cheaper,” asserts “energyinnovation.org.”

They’re all wrong. Renewable energy is getting cheaper every year, but it is a long way from competing with natural gas, coal, or even nuclear power, if nuclear power weren’t drowning in lawsuits and regulatory obstructions.

With both wind and solar energy, the cost not only of the solar panels and wind turbines has to be accounted for, but also of inverters, grid upgrades, and storage assets necessary to balance out the intermittent power.

Taking all variables into account, what might it cost for the entire U.S. to get 100 percent of its energy from solar energy?

Speaking the Language of Energy and Electricity

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States in 2017 consumed 97.7 quadrillion BTUs of energy. BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are often used by economists to measure energy. One BTU is the energy required to heat one pound of water by one degree fahrenheit.

If we’re going understand what it takes to go solar, and usher in the great all-electric age where our heating and our vehicles are all part of the great green grid, then we have to convert BTUs into […] Read More