Is the Sun Shining on Solar?

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Going green doesn't just mean using clean energy anymore. In the case of solar power, for example, it means solar investors are putting greenbacks in their pockets as well. With all three U.S. presidential contenders on record as favoring some sort of cap-and-trade restrictions on carbon emissions, many in the alternative energy industry are eyeing the day when solar electrical generation can compete against fossil fuels on a kilowatt-per-hour basis.

Going green doesn't just mean using clean energy anymore. In the case of solar power, for example, it means solar investors are putting greenbacks in their pockets as well. With all three U.S. presidential contenders on record as favoring some sort of cap-and-trade restrictions on carbon emissions, many in the alternative energy industry are eyeing the day when solar electrical generation can compete against fossil fuels on a kilowatt-per-hour basis. Combined with some state initiatives that mandate solar electric production, companies in the solar electric industry are enjoying sunshine times both in sales and stock price…

Without these state mandates, solar power might still remain an interesting, but uneconomical alternative to all but the most dedicated environmentalists.

That's because the price per kilowatt hour for solar power electrical generation at the largest scale still hovers around $.21 per kilowatt hour, according to the website Solarbuzz.com. Old-fashioned coal-fired electrical generation only cost an average of $.0821 to $.1648 per kilowatt hour in 2007 depending on region, according to figures compiled by the Energy Information Administration. And competing alternative energy sources - like wind energy - are lower cost in most regions than solar, too. Solar's costs have to still come down substantially for a long-term boom to take hold.

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