By now, you’ve probably heard of solar panels.
They can power your home, your car, your office or even your farm, but what about your home’s gas-fired power?
Well, that’s a bit of a different story.
Solar power has always been a hot commodity.
With the advent of the battery in the 1980s, the demand for solar power was so great that it became the second-largest energy source behind coal.
The United States now has more solar than all other fossil fuels combined.
But despite this impressive growth, there’s still a lot of fossil fuel power in the US.
For instance, there are about 10 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity in the country, and about 200 GW of natural gas power, with about 40 GW of coal and 10 GW of nuclear capacity.
To put that in perspective, the US has about 1.4 gigawatts of natural coal capacity.
That’s a lot more than any other country on Earth, but it’s still just one-third of what it was a century ago.
What happens when you add up all of this new fossil fuel energy?
Solar power is a lot cheaper than the rest of the fossil fuel industries combined.
So why isn’t it the next big thing?
For one, it’s not that cheap to build solar power plants.
Solar panels are expensive to produce, and they have a very long lifespan, so the more you can sell them off, the cheaper they get.
Also, most of the coal-burning power plants that exist today are located in states with some form of pollution regulations.
Those restrictions mean that the amount of pollution produced by coal-powered plants is relatively low compared to other power sources.
Solar energy also comes with a lot less environmental impact than other fossil fuel sources.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal is responsible for roughly 1.8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 9 percent for natural gas, 11 percent for nuclear, 13 percent for hydroelectricity, and 19 percent for renewables.
In fact, coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel in the United States, accounting for a whopping 20 percent of greenhouse gas pollution.
So, solar power is definitely a big winner for environmentalists, but you still have to keep in mind that it’s also expensive.
If you want to install a solar power plant, you’ll have to shell out more than $200,000 a year to do it, but that can be reduced if you have a contract with a private developer.
The cost of electricity will also go up with the cost of natural resources, which means that you might end up paying more for gas, solar or nuclear power if you buy it at a discounted price.
And then there’s the environmental impacts of building and operating a coal- and gas-burning plant.
To take it one step further, solar panels are made from glass that contains mercury, and mercury is a major greenhouse gas.
If your roof leaks, your power bill could skyrocket.
There are also some health concerns that come with using solar power.
A 2013 report from the Energy Department found that a single square meter of solar energy can increase the amount in the air emitted by about 25 tons per year.
This means that a square meter can produce enough greenhouse gas to emit enough mercury to fill the entire state of Washington with it.
Another recent study from the US Department of Energy found that installing a solar system with a thermal collector can increase CO2 emissions by more than half a ton per year and add an additional 9 tons to the air pollution levels.
Even worse, the mercury emissions from those panels are also more than double the mercury that you would get from using conventional power plants with coal-based power plants (or even from burning oil).
So, when it comes to solar, it comes down to a matter of economics and economics being right.
Solar is definitely the future, but the way we live our lives could also have a huge impact on its future.