This paper describes categories of solar technologies and identijies those that are economic. It compares the private costs of power from solar, wind, nuclear, coal, oil, and gas generators. In the southern United States, the private costs of building and generating electricity from new solar and wind power plants are less than the private cost of electricity from a new nuclear power plant. Solar power is more valuable than nuclear power since all solar power is available during peak and mid-peak periods. Half of the power from nuclear generators is off-peak power and therefore is less valuable. Reliability is important in determining the value of wind and nuclear power. Damage from air pollution, when factored into the cost of power from fossil fuels, alters the cost comparison in favor of solar and wind power. Some policies are more effective at encouraging alternative energy technologies that pollute less and improve national security. Copyright 1990 Western Economic Association International.
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