Solar panels compete with cheap natural gas
Renewable energy is growing rapidly in the U.S., with wind and solar industries enjoying double-digit growth each year. Part of that growth comes from more homeowners choosing to install solar panels, according to NPR.
With government subsidies, some people can even make a financial argument for installing the panels. But in recent years, the price of one fossil fuel — natural gas — has declined so much that solar panels are having difficulty competing.
The reason natural gas prices have fallen is because production is way up, thanks to hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, as it's called, is a controversial drilling technology that some say harms the environment. But the process has also made it possible to extract oil and gas once thought to be trapped in rock too deep underground for drillers to reach.
Due in large part to a combination of fracking and horizontal drilling, there's been a nearly 30 percent increase in the amount of natural gas produced in the U.S. since 2005, and the price has dropped.
Read more about solar power for homes.