Cheaper Solar Panels Now Replacing Solar Thermal Plants

December 21, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. panel (n.) [pan-l] – one of the flat pieces that make up a door, wall, or ceiling
Example: Solar panels are usually placed in the rooftop of a house or a building.  

2. economical (adj.)  [ek-uh-nom-i-kuhl, ee-kuh-] – used to describe a product that is not expensive to own and use
Example: Many modern innovators are coming up with products that are economical.
3. plunge (v.) [pluhnj] – to suddenly decrease or drop in amount, value, etc.
Example: The production of rice plunged due to floods encountered in agricultural areas.

4. prefer (v.)  [pri-fur]  – to choose whatever is more important or has more value
Example: I prefer using laptops than desktop computers because they are more convenient. 

5. stick to (phrasal v.) [stik] [too; unstressed too, tuh] – to continue doing or using (something)
Example: I chose to stick to the same milk brand because of its quality.

Read the text below.

As prices of solar panels drop, more companies are abandoning solar plants for the more economical source of alternative energy.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that several companies in the US have cancelled plans to build solar thermal plants, which generate energy from steam by boiling water using sunlight reflected from mirrors. This trend has happened in Germany as well.

China’s active production of solar panels has caused the price drop. As a result, cost of energy from solar panels plunged by about 41% over the past two years, still lower compared to the cost of energy from solar thermal plants, which has dropped by 31%.

In places like Hawaii and Italy where there is abundant sunshine and high electricity rates, consumers prefer installing rooftop solar panels instead of paying local power suppliers for their electricity. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that by 2015, solar panels will cost as much as main energy sources in the US, Europe and Japan.

However, some companies stick to solar thermal plants, mainly because of power plants’ efficient storage capacity.  Thermal plant builders are also innovating to be competitive. New methods of construction that cut costs are currently being implemented. 

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·         Which do you think will be more advantageous, thermal plants or solar panels? Why?
·         Which do you prefer, solar thermal plants or solar panels? Why?

Discussion B

·         Do you think using solar panel energy would benefit a company? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are the disadvantages of using energy from solar panels?

December 21, 2011