That’s a tricky question because with solar energy, we are talking about an investment that pays for itself after five-ten years while coal power production requires constant inputs. These figures are constantly changing because coal and other non-renewable resources are becoming more scarce. As we deplete our reserves and coal becomes harder to mine, we can expect coal prices to increase dramatically. However, with solar power, the price of the electricity depends on how much the silicon costs and how efficient we can make the solar panels. Since silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, we can use it for multiple applications as long as we recycle it when we are done with it. So, even though coal might be cheaper than solar power now, we can expect the reverse to be true in the future.
Alternative energies are expensive because of production not process or transportation. As happyhodges states such fuels are a long term investment, unlike fossil fuels that require rather cheap processing fees and low production costs but inevitable scarcitiy and large transmission costs. While photovoltaic cells are expensive in terms of production and maintenance, the technology is becoming more efficient to reduce costs while also reducing transmission costs because it creates energy on-site.
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