Historically, Utah has been coal country. The Utah Geological Survey states: “Utah’s most economic coal reserves are located in three coalfields forming an inverted ‘U’ primarily across Sevier, Emery, and Carbon Counties.” However, coal production across the state began to decline in 2008, and although Utah’s primary source of electricity is still coal generated, we also pull from natural gas, hydroelectric, and solar power sources. And the shift to alternative, green power is growing every day.
All power sources have their pros and cons, with solar’s being a typically higher upfront cost and lower energy density. It’s important to note that lower energy density isn’t indicative of a problem—it just means that more solar panels are needed for a higher energy output. Solar provides a long-term, reliable solution to energy demands. Although coal has been a cost-efficient and convenient way to get energy, it is a finite resource and we’re reaching the limit quickly. Solar is truly a renewable energy source.
Fossil Fuel Origination
Fossil fuels consist of three main types: petroleum (or crude oil), coal, and natural gas. Fossil fuels are made from decomposing plants and animals and come from the energy absorbed and stored in organisms as they slowly were covered by dirt and rocks. The U.S. Department of Energy (Energy.gov) states: “Over millions of years, different types of fossil fuels formed -- depending on what combination of organic matter was present, how long it was buried and what temperature and pressure conditions existed as time passed.”
Costs and Considerations
Solar energy does come with some startup costs, but the average usage cost is about 3-6 cents per kilowatt-hour whereas fossil fuels run around 5-17 cents per kilowatt-hour. Even better, solar costs are continually trending downward. Solar panel systems have decreased around 20% in the last five years. Once the panels are in, maintenance isn’t a big deal, both in time and cost. Solar will lower your utility bills, but you may need financing to get it installed.
Throughout human history, fossil fuels have been a reliable and cheap way to get energy, and it’s widely used across the globe. Because it has been the main source of energy, we’ve had a long time to perfect the way it’s used. However, we are reaching a point where the world is extracting and consuming faster than the rate of replenishment. It’s simply not sustainable. Additionally, there are production hazards to consider and dangerous job duties. These nonrenewable resources also contribute significantly to climate change. In terms of environmental impact, solar is the most efficient option. Each year, there is more and more infrastructure built to make solar accessible and convenient to every community. Solar energy also provides energy independence and has many diverse applications. With time and appropriate financial support, the nation can effectively make the complete shift to renewable energy sources.
If you’re considering solar power but are torn because of your compassion to our coal country history, contact Four Season Solar’s experts to find out more information of the benefits of the renewable resource.