Solar Energy's Place in the Power Industry Essay

Solar Energy's Place in the Power Industry Essay

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Since when it was determined that electricity could be generated from the sun, the power industry has taken slack for not considering it as a viable addition to their generation fleet. However, there are two facts that need to be remembered with respect to the power industry. The first thing to remember is that power has to be supplied to their customers regardless of the weather or the time of day. Secondly, power companies are just like any other company; they are in the business of making money. Because of those two facts, solar energy at its current technological state has no place in the power industry’s current generation fleet.
The figure to the right shows the load on a normal week day during the summer. There are two noticeable peaks from 6 to 8 AM and 5 to 7 PM. The first peak is due to people getting up for work and going through their normal morning routine all at the same time. The second peak is from when people get home from work and turn the TV, turn up the AC, make dinner and etc. During both of these sharp peaks, generation still has to meet both of these demands. Generation can be viewed in two different ways. The first being the most obvious way were the types are separated by the source of generation (nuclear, coal, natural gas, diesel, hydroelectric). The second way to view generation is to categorize the generation depending on how length and capacity it runs every day. Nuclear, steam, and combined cycle plants run 24/7 and considered a system’s base load. They only shut down due to outages, planned and unplanned. These plants do not shut down daily because they are long processes to be followed in the shutdown as well as in their start up. Some start up routines may last as long as a week. By looking at the...

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...ting as a UPS for critical customers (hospitals, fire stations and police station). However, solar energy being used at a residential level is a sticky situation for utilities. Solar energy use at a residential level theoretically presents a power companies biggest competitor in the future. In the future, solar energy might be an effective addition to power companies fleet to help meet demand at peak times, but without advances in solar panel’s efficiency and in battery storage, solar power has no place in the power industry.

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