Solar Energy vs. Fossil Fuels

This article compares solar energy to fossil fuels. We compare them on various levels, covering everything from emissions to cost and availability.

1. Emissions

Let’s begin by comparing the carbon emissions from solar energy and those of fossil fuels. You might not be surprised to learn that solar energy has a significant advantage in this area.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is the most renewable source of energy. After solar panels are installed, there will be little or no pollution. They simply sit there, absorbing sunlight and turning it into electricity. One of the main benefits of solar is its lack of pollution.

Solar energy’s main source of pollution is caused by the extraction of silicon and its manufacture. However, this is negligible compared to the mining and combustion of fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels

We all know that fossil fuels can be harmful to the environment. They emit greenhouse gases, including methane and carbon dioxide. These gases are harmful to our health and contribute to climate change.

All fossil fuels can be equally harmful. The worst fossil fuel is usually coal, followed closely by oil. Natural gas is a cleaner option, but still emits significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Many coal-fired power stations have been converted to natural gas in order to lower their overall emissions.

Solar Is The Winner

Solar is the clear winner here, as it emits zero emissions after installation. Solar emits far less than the ongoing combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas-fired power stations.

2. Cost

The cost is more grey. While solar energy is continuing to decrease in cost every year, fossil fuels remain so affordable that they are difficult to beat in this area.


There are many factors that can affect whether or not solar energy is cost-effective. These factors include where you live and what type of solar panels you choose. They also affect how long they last.

To make solar energy more affordable than fossil fuels, you must provide a return-on-investment (ROI) for the project. In the worst case, it could be less expensive than the energy your utility company would provide over the same time.

Everyone should aim to achieve ROI. While professional renewable energy companies can give you an estimate of the ROI for your project’s duration, it is important to do your own research.

Fossil fuels

Fossil fuels can be a very cheap source of power generation energy. They are used extensively in power plants that use natural gas, oil, or coal. Coal, oil, and gas alone accounted for less than 85% of the global energy consumption in 2018. This is according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2019, 68th edition.

The Winner – Inconclusive

It’s true, there isn’t a clear winner today. Solar power can be as cheap as fossil fuels in some countries and cities. Power from fossil fuels still wins in other countries.

Each year, solar technology becomes cheaper. This has led to a greater acceptance of the technology, which in turn helps drive down prices. This makes it easier for those with limited budgets.

3. Available

Both fossil fuels and solar energy have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to availability. These are discussed in detail in the sections below.


One of the most easily available forms of renewable power is solar energy. The sun shines its solar radiation toward the earth 24 hours a day. It is therefore predictable and reliable. Solar energy is also renewable. This means it will continue to be available for as long as there is life on Earth.

However, there is one concern about the availability of solar power. Even though the sun shines continuously, the earth rotates and there is day and night. This is a big drawback to solar energy because solar cells do not function at night.

The location of your home is another concern. The equator is where solar energy is most concentrated. The intensity of solar energy drops the further you move towards the poles.

Fossil fuels

There are many fossil fuels readily available. Most countries have access to at least one of three major fossil fuels: coal, oil, or natural gas. These countries have however access to many renewable energy sources.

However, fossil fuels are finite resources. They will eventually run out. We cannot, therefore, expect them to be available for thousands or hundreds of years.

Solar is the Winner

This would be a tight contest if fossil fuels were renewable. Solar is the clear winner because they are not renewable. The availability of solar energy is greater than that of fossil fuels.


There are many factors to be considered when comparing solar energy with fossil fuels. Our opinion is that solar wins on the basis of emissions and availability.

Although fossil fuels were traditionally the most expensive, solar energy is getting cheaper every year. It is still up for debate whether fossil fuels are cheaper than solar energy. Solar energy can be as economical as fossil fuels in certain locations.

This post was written by Daniel Massaad, owner and expert solar technician at Energy Solutions Direct! ESD is one of the top solar companies in St Petersburg FL! Our licensed and certified contractors are masters of their craft; with years of experience servicing the great Tampa Bay area and beyond, the choice is simple. ESD excels at offering you the best in solar value!

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