Mr J asked in EnvironmentGreen Living · 10 years ago

How is alternative energy not "cost effective"?

One of my friends was dismissing alternative energy sources, like solar panels on houses, because he said they were not "cost effective". Hmm...

13 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Solar panels can only charge during the day, are VERY EXPENSIVE to install, and are just as expensive to replace in the case of a hailstorm or other damage. The power they generate is very limited and most people can't afford to install a battery to store additional power (that only store a limited amount of power, only last for a limited time and when the batteries die then become a source of pollution).

    Most people cannot afford the upkeep and would not want to deal with the hassle. It is much more cost effective (cheaper) to just purchase regular electricity from the electric company.

    The only viable "alternative" energy source at this time is nuclear - and that requires a huge starting investment that many communities are not willing to pay. The notion that if we just give it enough time, or steal enough tax dollars to fund the research that eventually solar or some other "alternative" energy source will become more cost effective is not based in reality. I could just as easily say that I should take your tax dollars to invest in clean coal research because one day we are certain to produce 100% clean coal power plants. That doesn't mean that advances can't be made, we just have to look at reality. Clean coal has a future, wind does not. Nuclear has a future, solar does not. The pinnacle of what you want inside of what I think can be achieved might be fusion power. Fusion is like nuclear but without the byproducts and could produce much more energy. Til then, we've got coal, nuclear and hydro (it doesn't get much greener than hydro) where available.

    Haven't you noticed that on your electricity bill, if you want to choose to use the 'green' electricity sources - it costs you a significant amount more? It's not because the electric companies are mean, evil white people - it's because the other methods cost that much more to produce the electricity. In most cases, much more - you just don't see the entire cost because it's subsidized by tax dollars meaning that you pay for it whether you use it, whether you like it or not.

    Do this; call your local solar panel people. Ask them what it'll cost to install enough panels to make your home as self-sufficient as possible. Next calculate how many (decades) of your regular monthly electricity bills you would have to spend just to cover the purchase and installation charges alone. Then you'll have your answer. In my case, if I bought my panels now and lived in the same house for the next 30 years and assuming that I didn't have to spend a cent on any repair, maintenance or replacement (a false assumption) in year 31 I'd begin to get a return on my investment. And that's with a cheaper model installation.

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  • 10 years ago

    There are a few things about solar panels. I am not exactly sure what is the price for them but I am sure it is not cheap. to my understanding, the solar energy technical development for the household use can only boil water. You probably already know but solar energy will be hugely affected by weather and day time so it is not so convenient. There are solution such as efficient energy storage, new design of the house, more efficient panels that require less sunlight light but none of those solutions are practical right now.

    There are certainly some development and it is moving on very quickly. Who knows what will happen in 10 years time. However, with most of the European countries and USA are more concentrate on wind energy development, the solar market is slow. The recession is not helping the clause either.

    I believe solar energy is the energy of the future, together with nuclear fusion development. However, at the moment, Solar energy is estill under development.

    Your friend is right about it is not cost effective, but with better development, they can be the main energy source. I believe in the future, there will be more generators closer to residence and industry area with smaller size generation but more in quantities. They will be use DC system again rather AC, long transmission system. They will cooperate eacher in the future, which will release the stress on the existing transmission system with more environmental benefit.

    It is not cost effective now, we will make it more cost effective. Making the future better is what being a human is about :)

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  • 10 years ago

    Sometimes they are not cost or performance effective. (i.e. A cabin in the redwoods on the north side of a mountain may not get enough direct sunlight to make PV yield a reasonable return on investment)

    To be dismissive about alternative energy as not being cost effective is analogous to saying that learning to drive and buying a car for a few thousand is not cost effective when you can hire a limo and driver for $50 per hour. This would be true if you rarely traveled. But if you want some control over you own lifestyle, or needed to travel often then having your own transportation available would make it cost effective.

    To shell out thousands for a PV system when next months power bill is in the hundreds it may not seem cost effective.

    To invest several grand in a PV system that reduces the bills from hundreds to tens, may take years to pay off. It is like paying your bill in advanced. That is cost effective.

    To use alternative energy to lessen the dependence on fossil fuels or nuclear, and the environmental risk those pose, the investment is also a good insurance policy.

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  • GABY
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    It simply means the alternative costs more than the existing source. Most alternative energy we have today costs more than our grid power that is produced from Coal, Gas, Nuclear, Oil, Hydro, etc.

    The only "Alternative" that even comes close to providing the massive amount of reliable 24/7 power need to support our society today is nuclear. The only reason any Wind and Solar is being built today is because it is being subsidized with taxpayers dollars. If it was not, then very little would be produced because it is not "Cost Effective"

    Source(s): Engineer - over 40 years. Love Solar and Wind, but hate Liars. It is very simple math to evaluate. Just go to your local utility website and most will even have solar calculators for your area and home size.
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  • Alimas
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    The vast majority of alternative energies aren't cost effective, for any or all of a variety of different reasons, such as, they are new scientific fields, manufacturing pipelines don't exist for the technology, would require significant initial investment to replace current norms, etc..

    The problem with that argument though, is that nothing new is cost effective, making the argument pointless. Gasoline automobiles, coal power plants, and so forth all faced these challenges and more and in some respects still do.

    But that's where most of the investing goes - into making them more cost effective. And the rate at which that is happening is fantastic - look at Tesla Automotive - solar panels are a great example and smaller things like LED lighting.

    Unless your friend's point is "we shouldn't do anything to avoid polluting the environment", then he isn't making a case against you. He's simply dismissing a topic he is ill-prepared to discuss.

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  • 10 years ago

    Solar panels are expensive. They depend on sunny days. Imagine spending a fortune for solar panels that store about 15% energy, then having to replace all the solar panels on your roof cause some ice chunks during a storm left beautiful decorative cracks in your investment.

    Hydropower is better. Earth has huge amounts of water and undiscovered terrain under the sea and we live on land. pff. maybe eolian energy too...but meh.

    Source(s): I heard they have this car, maaaan. It runs on water maaaaaaan!
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  • 10 years ago

    Alternate Energy is something without a big plan needed to be circularized!

    It's something like Solar Energy, self energy as we walk through we could charge our mobile phones. It is not cost effective but Great!

    Hope this would become practical over the world in the Future! :)

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  • 6 years ago

    I never imagined that it was possible to get Free Electricity. I have seen a lot of products offering ways to save on electricity or get free power and I have tried most of them. To my dismay, they are all useless and I just wasted my money trying them. When I saw Power Innovator, I remembered that if someone would have created a Free Energy Device, it would have been Prof Richard Goran the genius that invented the electricity.

    And tell you what: this system literally turns my electric meter backwards! Can you imagine how much money I am saving on my electric bill? I hope that many more people will use your product. Thank you so much!

    Wath here a free presentation:

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  • 10 years ago

    Why do you pay the Water company for Water when it falls free from the sky?

    Well Water may FALL free, but catching, storing, sterilizing & putting it under pressure into your pipes is going to cost you.

    So the question of cost effectiveness is - "Would the loan payment on a personal Rainwater system cost MORE or LESS than what the water company charges.

    Well power is virtually the same thing.

    Why pay for energy when the sun drops it free from the sky?

    Simple. If the cost of your alternative Energy collection/conversion/storage system is MORE than what the Power company charges - then the alternative system is not cost effective.

    Source(s): Careful, understanding cost equivalancy can change you from a Democrat to a Republican. Cost effective simply means how much does one method of doing something cost with respect to another method.
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  • Peter
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    In the case of solar the cost is about $0.30 to $0.70 per KWh. That is high when compared to cost from a coal fired electric plane to of $0..08 to 0.15 per KWh. So if you want to pay more than twice the cost to power your home and you find that cost effective than go ahead.

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