Solar energy vs. Fossil fuels

Is solar energy a legitimate alternative to fossil fuels?

Background Information

Solar energy is a good alternative to fossil fuels. It helps save energy and it is much safer for the environment than fossil fuels. Solar energy is absorbed by solar panels. Solar energy is more costly than fossil fuel energy, but is much more effective for the environment.

Solar Energy Positive Effects

  • Doesn't contribute to global warming
  • More expensive than normal sources at first but cheaper in the long run
  • 10,000 to 15,000 times more powerful than humans, hydroelectric power, and nuclear power in one day

Solar Energy Negative Effects

  • At first it is more expensive than fossil fuels, so it can only be used by people who can afford it.
  • If most of the world went solar it could have a long term effect on the economy
  • Not all places in the world could rely on solar energy as it requires sunlight. Places in the world with frequent rain would not have reliable power (Mason)
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Effects on the carbon cycle

  • Fossil Fuel energy has an effect on the carbon cycle, It gets carbon from the ground in the form of fossil fuels, and puts it in the atmosphere.
  • Solar energy stops this part of the cycle from happening, possibly altering the access to the carbon life depends on.

Effects on the economy

  • Fossil fuels are the basis of the modern day economy.
  • If the whole world went solar, the economy could crash leading the world into another depression.
  • Fossil fuels however, already are leading the economy on a downward slope as they will run out eventually. By then it will be too late to start using solar energy as the economy will no longer be stable.

But is it an alternative?

So in the end, solar energy has many ups and downs as well as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have a strong suit in the carbon cycle as a direct way to move carbon from the ground into the atmosphere, while solar energy threatens to do just that. Solar energy is also renewable, in that it will always be of use as long as you have sunlight. The economic argument for solar energy is that although it is more expensive in the beginning, it is cheaper in the long run. While fossil fuels prices while cheaper right now will rise and rise until there is none left and there is no going back. Solar energy is more costly at first but cheaper in the long run, could cause economic problems at first, but could be settled in the long run, and it is always going to be useful, until the sun burns out. So if the question asks is it a legitimate alternative, the answer is yes, and the world should change as soon as possible.

Work Cited


#1: Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)

"Energy: The Solar Prospect." American Decades Primary Sources. Ed. Cynthia Rose. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 589-591. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.


#2: Source Citation

Naseri, Muthena, and Douglas Smith. "Alternative energy sources." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. 5th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014. Science in Context. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.


#1: "Renewable Energy." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.


#1: Solar Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Act (1974)." Environmental Encyclopedia. Gale, 2011. Science in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

#2: Solar Energy." Alternative Energy. Ed. K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, and Kathleen J. Edgar. 2nd ed. Detroit: UXL, 2012. Science in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.