In the solar energy vs wind energy debate, it can be difficult sometimes to find any key differences between the two besides the obvious. One comes from the sun. The other comes from atmospheric changes. Both are renewable resources. The costs of installing both have been coming down in recent years while investments have been rising.
Yet, upon closer examination of these two energy resources, there are some differences that are worth considering.
Solar power has no moving parts. This gives it a better overall reliability rating, with many systems having a 25-year warranty associated with them. Without moving parts, there are fewer maintenance and monitoring needs that are typically required of solar systems as well.
2. Power Collection
Both solar and wind energy have power collection limitations. For solar, there is no energy collected at night. For wind, there must be a specific range of wind speeds for the blades to rotate properly and not cause damage. If power generation is required when the sun goes down, however, wind energy is the only option when looking at these two specific renewable resources.
Solar energy has an understated visual footprint when compared to wind energy. Wind turbines have a lower actual physical footprint when compared to solar energy. Solar collectors can stretch out for hundreds of acres to produce the same amount of power that a few turbines can create in fewer than 10 acres.
Solar energy is virtually silent in its operation. Wind energy is also relatively silent, although the rotating blades do create sound through movement that can be heard when near them.
Solar energy has a minimal impact on the environment. Fossil fuels are required to create the panels which collect energy from the sun, although this is a one-time charge. Wind energy also requires fossil fuels in a one-time charge, but this isn’t the only environmental impact. The spinning blades have a history of killing local wildlife, especially birds, because of the changes in wind movement that occur. There is also the visual impact that a wind turbine has on the local environment to consider.
In the solar energy vs wind energy debate, both offer viable solutions to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Which one is preferred will depend on local needs, terrain, and similar environmental factors.