The debate over the development of green energy resources in America is generally framed with the discussion of climate change, and the harmful effects that greenhouse gasses have on the planet. It would seem odd to supporters of renewable and clean energy production methods why anyone outside of the fossil fuel industry would support a method of producing power that produces pollution over those that do not. Obviously those who are directly employed by the fossil fuel industry would argue for it over renewable sources, but why would the general public who have no ties directly to the industry choose to support dirtier methods of production over the cleaner ones. The answer comes down to the discussion of money.
Fossil fuels being burned are a cheaper method of producing power for consumer consumption than renewable energy sources like wind and solar. While there is obviously no support for harming the atmosphere, the actual damage is difficult to perceive and will not effect the daily life of a consumer. The only effect they see on a day to day basis is the price they pay for each unit of power that they consume, and if asked to pay a higher price for that same product they will weigh the price increase against the immediate perceived damages. Because the entire discussion of atmospheric change as a result of fossil fuels being burned relates to the future of the planet, most consumers quietly support the method that will cost less today. The entire debate would immediately be ended in favor of renewable energy sources if it were that they cost less than fossil fuels.
Renewable energy resources are utilizing all methods and technologies at their disposal in attempts to make the power cheaper to produce. The fact of the matter is that the sun does not shine all the time and the wind does not blow all the time, making the amount of hours each day that wind and solar farms are producing limited. Each of these industries can only produce power for limited times each day when the source of the power is available, as opposed to fossil fuel production plants which can generate power 24 hours a day. Most technology with respect to renewable energy is geared at getting more power produced within the timeframes that the resource is available, and reducing the costs associated with manpower and maintenance. In many respects, the renewable energy industry has maximized the amount of power that can be produced by using the extent of technology available at the current time.
There is a new technology available that may change the entire landscape of renewable energy, and it is actually not directly related to the industry itself. The greatest threat to both wind and solar production facilities is lightning strikes and the electrical surges that happen as a result. The damage that is produced to the windmill and solar panel after a lightning strike is unavoidable, but the damage that is produced when the subsequent surge travels across power lines and reaches sensitive computer equipment is able to be stopped. In the post, SPDs (surge protective devices) that were installed in these facilities were more consumer grade, and did little to protect against surges. While they may have stopped the immediate flow of extra current, the facility is knocked offline after they do their job. Until they are reset or replaced, the facility is not producing electricity. New technological advances in the SPD market allow for more robust construction of the devices, making them able to handle the large loads that lightning strikes produce and regulating the flow more effectively. Specific devices from certain manufacturers also allow for the devices to continue to function even after being triggered, thus keeping the facility online and producing for the maximum periods of time. Through integration of these new industrial grade surge protectors into both solar farms and wind farms, equipment can be protected more effectively and life spans can be increased. These advances will bring the price per unit charged to consumers down below the fossil fuel prices of today, and there will no longer be a public debate as to the superiority of renewable energy over traditional methods.