The solar energy market is one that has two specific debates hindering it. First is the debate over the amount of impact that fossil fuel production causes to the environment, and how much that solar energy will reduce that impact. What this translates to is that there is little to no environmental damage being caused by the solar farms that produce electricity for consumers, while there is pollution damage caused by burning of fossil fuels to produce the same product. The debate over the direct association of fossil fuel production to the specific amount of environmental damage is the issue. We all realize that there is an impact on the environment when you burn fossil fuels, but nobody can put an exact amount on it. Proponents of the oil and coal industries will say that there is minimal damage to the atmosphere, and that climate change is not actually happening as a result of their industry. Opponents to fossil fuels lay the majority of the blame for climate change on these industries. There is nobody making an actual comparison of the green energy and fossil fuel energy industries in this capacity, as everyone agrees that alternative sources have less impact, but the question ends up being answered by cost. Since everyone is in agreement that there is less impact on the environment produced by alternative energy sources, then what we are actually debating is the cost to produce that electricity and if it is worth paying more for some damage to the environment.
The costs of production of energy from alternative sources like solar is found in the actual equipment that is needed to effectively produce electricity. Since the fuel source itself is the sun and the sunshine is free, the costs which end up being paid by consumers in the form of their electric bills are in the form of this equipment and the maintenance costs associated with it. The fossil fuel industry as less cost involved in technology and more cost associated with the purchase or harvesting of the actual fuel in the form of oil or coal. At the current time, the cost to produce electricity from coal or oil is less than the cost of producing the same amount of electricity from solar sources, but technological advancements to the equipment can change that landscape. If there were ways to create that same electricity from solar sources and the cost would be less than fossil fuel production, then there is no reason to utilize fossil fuels any more.
Technological advancements to specific components in the solar energy space can produce this effect of making solar energy cheaper to produce than fossil fuels. Specifically, the replacement costs associated with the high tech computer equipment as a result of lightning strikes and power surges being reduced may be able to bring about this change. There are technologically advanced surge protection devices for solar producers which allow for the downstream equipment to be protected in the case of a surge after a lightning strike, and the most advanced of these devices also allows the system to stay online even after that strike. Typically, surge protection is achieved through a cutoff of power flow between a component which has been struck by lightning and everything that is connected to it. The system might serve to protect the equipment from damage, but subsequently takes the system offline until it is reset. This downtime during the hours when the sun is shining is one of the biggest costs associated with solar power, and maximizing the amount of time a system is online when the sun is shining can reduce the prices paid by consumers dramatically. The newest technology in solar surge protection features an “always on” system which needs no replacement or resetting. This maximization of the potential output of power of each solar panel and attached component can potentially reduce the prices paid to lower than fossil fuels, effectively ending the debate once and for all.