Solar Energy vs. Wind Energy – Which is Best?


Both solar energy and wind energy are the most common, and thus the most popular, types of renewable energy.


Solar and wind energy are both pollution-free and they come with an unlimited supply. Both energies rely on the sun. The sun will last for a further 5 billion years.


Both solar and wind energy offer plenty of benefits. But, as with anything, there are also disadvantages that apply.


First, and in brief, let’s have a look at the basics of solar and wind energy. After that, we can assess solar energy vs. wind energy to try to figure out which is best.




What is Solar Energy?


Solar energy comes directly from the sun.


To create energy from the sun’s radiation, photovoltaic cells are placed inside solar panels.


When sunlight lands on the solar panel, the light is captured and turned into a usable form of energy.


For more explanation of how solar panels work, have a read through the LiveScience article.




What is Wind Energy?


Wind can generate a kinetic type of energy.


When wind hits a wind turbine, the energy is turned into electrical power.


Again, because wind arises due to the sun, wind is, in fact, a type of solar energy.


However, wind energy is collected in a different way than solar energy in order to turn it into useable electrical power.


To better understand the workings of wind turbines and how turbines change wind into electrical power, have a read through the ExplainThatStuff article.



Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy and Wind Energy


Solar and wind energy come from a sustainable source – the sun.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar and wind energy?



Advantages of Solar Energy and Wind Energy


  • Zero air pollution.
  • While there are manufacturing costs and maintenance costs involved with solar and wind energy collection, the operational costs are zero.
  • Solar and wind energy are completely renewable. Both sources cannot be depleted.
  • Solar and wind energy are the two fastest developing energy sources worldwide. In turn, economies of scale will inevitably reduce installation and maintenance costs.
  • The solar and wind energy industries bring jobs to the local economy.
  • Both energies are able to be produced on a huge scale.


Disadvantages of Solar Energy and Wind Energy


  • There are inconsistencies to the production of solar and wind energy. Solar energy can only be produced when sunshine is available (not during the nighttime) and wind energy can only be produced when wind is available.
  • Both solar panels and wind turbines are relatively costly to manufacture and install.





Solar Energy vs. Wind Energy


While the production of energy from solar panels (voltaic cells) and wind have much in common, there are some sizable differences, too.


Sunshine is relatively consistent, other than during the nighttime. Wind, however, doesn’t blow with any consistency.


As such, solar energy production is a more predictable energy format than wind energy production.


Solar panels are quite costly to install. Nevertheless, once installed, there’s little call for much maintenance as there are no moving parts.


Wind turbines, too, are costly to install, and because there are various movable parts, maintenance costs are higher than solar panels.


Solar panels can be installed on rooftops. Nevertheless, while it is impossible to install a large wind turbine on a rooftop, and even though a wind turbine farm does take up a lot of space, turbine farms invite the use of land between each turbine – the land can be used for farming purposes, for example.


Solar panels are positioned close together. In the circumstances, if solar panels are installed on the ground, they leave very little spare land in between, if any.


Solar panels don’t generate any noise pollution.


Wind turbines do generate noise pollution. Nevertheless, with improvements in technology, wind turbines are becoming quieter during operation.


As mentioned, solar energy cannot be harvested during the night.


On the other hand, wind energy can be harvested at anytime of day or night.


Wind turbines can produce far more power than solar panels. A large-sized wind turbine is able to generate the same amount of power as almost 50,000 solar panels.


For the time being, it’s far more likely that solar panels are more suitable – more practical – to the homeowner’s needs than wind turbines.


With advances in wind turbine manufacture and lower wind turbine energy prices, in future times, wind energy may be a better alternative than solar energy, depending on your location.


Photo by Cristiano Firmani on Unsplash