Some analysts believe we are close to a tipping point in fossil fired vs renewable sources of energy. It becomes difficult to justify capital investment in polluting technologies when clean energy costs as little as it does now.
Fields of solar panels and hilltop wind turbines are an increasingly common sight nationwide. And as demand for clean energy grows, costs are falling fast. Chris Namovicz is with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Namovicz: “As you manufacture more and as you install more, the manufacturers and the installers learn to do things more efficiently. For solar generation, install costs have come down 40 to 50 percent in the last five years for which we have data.” The systems are also getting more efficient. Namovicz: “For wind, in particular, the productivity of the turbines has improved quite a bit over the last five, 10, 15 years, and so that helps reduce the total cost to own and operate the system.” The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that, in four years, the overall cost of building and generating electricity from onshore wind farms will be about the same as using natural gas. And, after accounting for anticipated tax credits, new large-scale solar projects will be comparable too. He says there are still hurdles to full reliance on renewables. But as these technologies get cheaper, a future without fossil fuels is on the horizon. Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.