Solar power has numerous advantages over fossil-fueled power generation. For one, the fuel source, sunlight, is delivered to the site for free. The risks of mining, exploring and transporting fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil are completely eliminated. Since there is no waste, there is no need to contain or store waste products. In comparison to both coal and nuclear-fired generation, this is a significant advantage. For example, radioactive wastes from nuclear power generation must be safely stored and protected for approximately 10,000 years. This responsibility is becoming more complicated and expensive in a world concerned with nuclear security and will be a burden on future generations that extends into the future longer than the entire period of recorded history.
Solar PV is a proven technology. Originally developed in the 1950’s, solar PV is a well-established technology with a long track record of quiet, clean performance. Today, solar PV is the most widely-disseminated and installed solar electric generating technology in the world, with an installed base of over thirty thousand megawatts.
Solar PV modules can perform in diffuse light and are able to produce partial power under such conditions. By comparison, solar technologies that rely on concentrating solar radiation are not able to produce any power in diffuse light. Since most of the world has a fairly high percentage of diffuse light, Penn believes that solar PV will have a real world performance advantage in most locations and, in particular, in Ontario.
Solar PV is scalable and a key technology for capturing the benefits of distributed generation. By producing power where it is needed, solar farms reduce the waste associated with transporting power from distant power plants and simultaneously improve the performance of the power grid by reducing grid congestion and meeting the peak power demands of the local community.
Finally, solar PV has the benefit of not requiring water during the power production cycle. In most of the world, water is becoming an ever-scarcer resource. In such locations, there is a significant positive ecological and practical advantage to utilizing a power generation technology that does not require any water resources. However, even in communities that have abundant water resources, the practice of using fresh water for once-through cooling of large conventional power plants has tremendously negative effects upon water ways and is directly responsible for killing fish and destroying aquatic life. Solar PV, in contrast, preserves our water resources for other uses and has no adverse effects on the environment.