There’s an ongoing debate in the field of renewable energy: Which is better, wind or solar? It’s a debate that probably won’t ever end. Solar vs Wind power almost sounds like the main event at a boxing match. Wind and solar both have their advantages and disadvantages. This article will look at them and then you’ll have to decide which is best for your situation.
What is Wind Energy?
Wind energy can be called a form of solar energy. The sun’s radiation heats the Earth’s surface, which is uneven, and it causes warm air to rise and cool air to fall. This difference in air pressure creates wind, which is a form of kinetic (motion based) energy.
Wind turbines capture the wind’s energy and converts it into a form of mechanical energy which can pump water (think the windmills seen in Old West photographs), grind grain, as in the Netherlands, or to create electricity to power homes, schools and businesses.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the radiation from the sun that reaches the Earth. It’s that simple. When it hits the photovoltaic (PV) cells in a solar panel, the cells transform the sunlight into electricity.
Pros and Cons of Solar Power
There are pros and cons of solar energy. On the plus side, solar energy is an abundant resource and has virtually unlimited source. Solar panels are getting less expensive to install. Given their relatively small size, they’re better for more urbanized residential areas.
On the downside, solar panels do need sun to generate power. They do work when it’s cloudy, but at a reduced level. They don’t work at night, obviously, but a battery storage system can offset this limitation. They can be an investment to install. Financing and tax incentives might be available to help offset the initial installation costs. If your normal utility bills are low, it might not be worth the expenditure.
Pros and Cons of Wind Power
There are pros and cons of wind power as well. Wind turbines can generate power at night, can be placed both on land and offshore, and have a huge potential at large (utility) size scale installations.
Some of the cons of wind power are that it’s reliant on wind, and there are windless days at times. They require specialized maintenance, can be unsightly and pose a hazard to birds.
Which is Best for Your Home?
Which is best for your home? It depends on your situation. As far as costs over time, due to a shorter lifespan (25 years vs. up to 40 years for solar) and maintenance needs, as well as efficiency losses over time (1.6% per year for wind, 0.5% per year for solar), solar is less expensive over time.
Space is also a consideration. Solar panels are compact and can fit almost anywhere. Wind turbines, on the other hand, are large and require a lot of room. They make sense if you live in a wide-open rural area that’s flat and has few or no objects to block the wind. In this situation, combining wind and solar could be your best alternative to provide clean, renewable, and consistent power day and night.