Infographic : A light bulb shows how solar and wind beat coal
What does it take to keep a 100W light bulb on for a whole year ? 323 kgs (714 pounds) of coal or 64 kgs (143 pounds) of natural gas. The full infographic has the details.
Regarding renewables, it takes much much less with 8 days, 8 hours and 14 seconds of energy from 100 square meters of solar panels or 2 hours, 20 minutes and 9 seconds from a 1.5 MW wind turbine at 25% capacity. A hydroelectric dam with a 339 kW turbine would need only two hours and a half.
As Michael Kanellos noted on Forbes :
While it is challenging to compare apples to oranges, it is somewhat safe to say solar and wind win. Eight days isn’t long and 100 square meters isn’t very much room.
Coal, nuclear and natural gas would also require new fuel every year. Sunlight and wind are free. Water for hydroelectric dams is free, but the dams certainly aren’t and in many places drought could make new dams a risky bet.
Now, of course, a 100W light bulb is preposterous. Incandescents have been phased out in many countries around the world and LED bulbs are eight to ten times more efficient if not much more. So let’s put 5 20 fluorescents (CFL) or ten 10W LED.
But you get the point. Solar, wind and hydro win over fossil fuels.