Among the various renewable energy sources, wind power and solar power are the most popular green energy alternatives for fossil fuels. They play a significant role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. The equipment for extracting solar and wind power are solar panels and wind turbines. The photovoltaic cells inside solar panels, transform the sun’s radiation into electricity.
Wind is also a form of solar energy. The difference in atmospheric pressure caused by the sun’s radiation creates wind. It is a motion-based form of energy.
When wind turns the turbine blades, it’s generator converts the energy of the rotating blade into mechanical power. It is then converted into electric power which can be used to power residential and commercial sectors. Wind and sunlight are domestic source of energy. It is sustainable, abundant and inexhaustible.
Making our planet greener and cleaner
Being a clean source of energy, wind and solar power cut down toxic pollution, thereby making our planet greener and cleaner. It can boost local infrastructure and economies by providing jobs to the local people. With its low operational cost, it can help to power even the most rural regions of the world. But the production, installation, and maintenance of solar panels and wind turbines are expensive.
Most of the people fail to afford it without government subsidies. The price has to come down to convince consumers about the adoption of green energy sources. Economic sustainability is the main thing that stands in the way of green energy adoption. To overpower fossil fuels, it is very essential to find a practical, cost-efficient way to store their power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Both solar power and wind power have some advantages over the other.
Advantages of solar energy over wind power:
- Solar energy provides a more predictable energy output than wind energy. Energy production can be done in a massive scale with solar farms.
- Unlike wind turbines, Solar panels don’t require particular space for installation as they can be installed on the roofs of houses or offices.
- Solar panels hardly produce any noise while wind turbines are noisy.
Advantages of wind power over solar power:
- Solar energy cannot be harnessed at night or during cloudy conditions while wind energy can be harnessed even at night.
- The wind is a more efficient power source than solar. Wind turbines release less CO2 to the atmosphere. A wind turbine produces 4.64 grams of CO2/1kWh while the solar panel produces 70 grams of CO2/1kWh.
- Wind power consumes less energy and produces more energy compared to solar panels.
Which renewable energy is better, wind or solar?
Based on geographical location and energy requirements, one can go for solar or wind option. Going for the wrong choice will cause a great financial loss. Renewable energy experts can help in evaluating the situation and provide advice on the type of renewable energy to be chosen. Both solar energy and wind energy are intermittent. There are locations where one will work better than the other.
Which is more effective depends on where in the world you are. In sunnier states, solar panels will produce far more energy than a single wind turbine. If one is in a windy spot, wind turbines will produce more energy. Wind systems require environments that are almost barren of large windbreaks and buildings. That accounts for the turbines positioned in lakes and oceans for power generation.
Solar is comfortable in the suburban area
As solar panels can be installed on the rooftops of houses, buildings, schools, and businesses, they are more practical for suburban or urban regions. Transparent solar panels are coming to retrofit roofs and windows. For suburban settings and applications, solar power is usually the best choice. A solar power system has no moving parts and is less space-consuming. It has better reliability and a 25year warranty.
Solar requires less monitoring and less maintenance. It provides a more predictable energy output based on BOM and NASA data. It is totally silent in operation and allows for quicker installation with minimal cables. Solar Power is less susceptible to lightning and high wind damage.
The wind turbine is comfortable in the rural area
Most of the local government authorities are against erecting wind turbines in townships as it creates noise and might raise complaints from the neighbours. Wind turbines are not suitable for urban areas. It is ideal for rural regions far from cities that are most in need of power.
A wind turbine can generate the same amount of electricity per kWh as about 48,704 solar panels. It can be built on existing farms or ranches. It doesn’t affect the farmers working in that land as it uses only a fraction of a land. They will also get the rent paid by wind power plant owners for using their land.
The main concerns of wind turbines are the noise from moving parts and visual impacts to the landscape. Wind turbines affect local wildlife as birds and bats get killed by the spinning of turbine blades. The downside of wind energy is that it need not always be fast enough to turn a turbine. Sometimes it is too fast to damage it as well. Wind turbines need regular maintenance because of the moving parts.
Which is more efficient?
The efficiency of solar panels and wind turbines is dependent on how well they can convert sunlight into usable electricity. Even the most efficient solar panels convert only about 22% of energy harnessed from sunlight into actual electrical energy.
Wind turbines can convert up to 60% of the energy they harness from the wind into usable electrical energy.
Wind power is more efficient, but it is not easy to capitalise on wind power, whereas utilising solar power is much easier.
Which is cost-effective?
Based on the daily usage of electricity, the average amount of sunshine received, and the individual output of panels, one would need around 24 solar panels to meet the energy demands of an average household of six. On average, solar panel costs will range between $11,000 and $15,000. It will generate between 6,000 and 10,000 kWh a year. Installation cost vary based on numerous factors, including. Its cost per kWh is 4.6 cents.
Annual average wind speed of an area, the size and energy needs of a house decides whether a wind turbine can power a house.
A wind turbine of about 5kW will produce enough energy for a household of 6 people. It would be equivalent to the amount of energy produced by 24 solar panels. Based on the size and height of the turbine and the equipment used, an average wind turbine installation cost will be anywhere between $50,000 to $70,000.
What is the best option?
It will produce about 8,000kWh to 12,000kWh over a year, which amounts to an average cost of 20.3 cents per kWh. This makes solar power less expensive than wind power. The best option is to combine solar power with wind power and power one’s home through multiple renewable energy sources. But it makes sense only for rural communities who have lots of space to spare.
Of the two, low-cost installation and less maintenance makes solar panels the best option for homeowners looking for a renewable energy choice. The role of wind will be in utility scale. Renewable energy sources help to reduce energy costs and has a positive impact on our planet. If wind and solar power can keep up their alarming growth rates, they might both stand up as a strong rival to fossil fuel giants.