Solar power has long been a minor power source compared to mighty oil. As oil prices rise and conflicts occur in oil countries, perhaps the issue needs to be revisited.
Solar vs. Oil
The industrial revolution was built on the back of oil and coal. There is no denying that solar played no part whatsoever. This is particularly true since solar cells were not invented until the 1950s! That being said, it appears indisputable that we have reached or are approaching a new debate about how we deal with our insatiable thirst for power.
At first glance, the mere mention of a comparison of solar to oil as an energy source sounds laughable. It is laughable when we are talking about large scale energy production, but the tide is turning.
In a comparison of solar to oil, solar power has numerous advantages. The power source for solar, the sun, is free. Solar is available as a resource in every country, regardless of location, economic strength and so on since the sun shines everywhere. The process of converting sunlight into electricity or heating produces no greenhouse gases. Whether you believe in global warming or not, solar still is advantageous in that it doesn’t produce pollution. If you live in a big city, you know how much pollution is in the air. You can often see it!
Flipping the coin, oil has some serious advantages over solar. We have already developed technology to efficiently convert oil to power. The cost of converting industry, vehicles and such to solar or any other power source would be huge. Oil also has an advantage in that it is easier to use in a wide variety of applications, such as vehicles. One simply can’t power a vehicle with solar power, not on a practical level. Finally, it is easier to use oil to provide power to massive energy platforms, such as electricity for New York City.
For large scale energy needs, oil is still a superior choice to solar as an energy resource. The technology simply does not exist to provide solar energy solutions for vehicles, national electrical grid systems and so on. Advancements in solar technology, however, may be changing this fact in the very near future. Technologies such as quantum dots, essentially microscopic solar panels that could exist in the paint on your home, may make oil a thing of the past.
For now, oil remains the backbone upon which our energy needs sit. In the next 5, 10 or 20 years, however, new technological applications may change this. Don’t believe me? Then consider the fact oil companies such as Chevron are investing heavily in solar companies.