Solar Energy vs Wind Energy: Progressive transition from fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives such as wind and solar energy is necessary to achieve the renewable energy targets set by India. In many ways, Solar energy and wind energy are not very different from the source of energy. To elaborate, solar energy naturally comes from the sun, while winds are essentially a result of atmospheric pressure differences caused by the sun's radiation.
Additionally, no greenhouse gases, such as CO2, are released when energy is generated from sustainable sources. Energy sources such as solar and wind energy are clean forms of energy that we can use in many ways.
But which of these two alternatives is more sustainable and cost-effective? We are often asked this question when comparing new wind turbines with a solar park. In this article, we will go into more detail about this. But let's lift a corner of the veil: while their sources may directly or indirectly be similar, solar panels and windmills are very different, and both have their own sets of advantages.
Let’s break down the advantages of these two renewable sources over the other in detail.
Advantages of Solar Energy over Wind Energy
The use of solar energy has seen tremendous growth in the past couple of decades. There are reservations among many that photovoltaic cells require a significant area size to generate sufficient energy. However, , it will take less than 100 ft of shadow-free area to generate 1kW of power.
When compared with wind energy, solar energy offers several obvious advantages, such as:
- Between the two, solar energy provides a more steady and predictable energy outcome.
- The energy production in a typical photovoltaic power station is much higher than a series of windmills.
- Compared to the bulky and massive blades used in wind turbines, solar panels can be conveniently placed in almost any open space with direct sunlight availability.
- Solar panels essentially operate without creating any sound. On the other hand, wind turbines have a constant noise coming out of the rotor blades.
Advantages of Wind Energy
Wind energy is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy in use. Wind energy has been used for centuries in some parts of Europe, such as the Netherlands.
Aside from the bulky setup and the noise of rotor blades, there are some advantages that wind energy has over solar power.
- Wind turbines can generate energy even during the night, whereas solar cells need sunlight for energy generation and work only during the day.
- In places where there is a constant flow of wind throughout the year, wind turbines can work as a very sustainable and uninterrupted source of energy.
The Better Option?
When it comes to the various renewable sources of energy, it’s safe to say that everyone is a winner compared to fossil fuel energy in both the short and long run. Between solar and wind energies, the answer depends on where they are being utilized.
Solar Energy can operate with practically zero hindrance in places with ample sunlight throughout the year. On the other hand, wind turbines require environments that are almost completely barren of large windbreaks and barrens. This is exactly why most windmills are installed away from urban areas.
Solar Panels are relatively cheaper and come with significantly less maintenance cost compared to wind turbines when it comes to setup costs. Additionally, the role of windmills is limited to utility-scale, while large photovoltaic power stations can even power entire cities or even states. While wind energy is more efficient in energy output, it will not always be as easy to capitalize on as solar energy.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say that both these sources of renewable energy will spearhead our efforts toward clean and sustainable energy production. If both solar and wind energy production continues to grow at the same rate, they will soon replace humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels for energy production.
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