With a new era of "greener" thinking dawning, many are searching for alternative sources of energy to power everything from their homes to their cars. Two well-known sources of renewable energy are solar and wind power. Each of these renewable energy sources has its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages. A closer examination of them can reveal some similarities and differences between the two, ultimately allowing for users to choose what is right for them.
Similarities Between the Systems
While solar and wind energy generators derive their power from two different sources, they share some similarities between the two systems. Each is a form of renewable energy, which means that they do not rely on a finite resource for fuel such as oil or natural gas. The process in which these mechanisms gather and store energy also shows a similarity between the two. Both solar and wind energy generators utilize a battery system in which they store gathered energy. Sunlight or wind powers the panel or turbine, which is then converted into electrical energy that is stored within a battery.
Unique Advantages of Solar Energy
There are several distinct advantages of utilizing a solar energy system in comparison to a wind energy system. A solar panel generator requires far less maintenance and upkeep costs, as they are quite efficient and sturdy. Solar panel systems are also easily expandable, as an owner can simply add on to his existing system with virtually no extra preparation costs. Solar panels are also considered much less intrusive to an environment due to their relative size in comparison to a wind turbine.
Disadvantage of Solar Panel Systems
Currently, the biggest problem facing widespread implementation of solar panel systems is the high cost of entry. Solar panels are a relatively new technology, and are still quite expensive in comparison to wind power. Another disadvantage of solar panel systems is the lack of efficiency due to the nature of sunlight. Because sunlight is available for only half of the day, these systems cannot constantly produce energy for its owner. Coupled with the issue of cloudy days, solar panels can at times be a somewhat unreliable source of energy.
Wind Power Advantages
The cost of entry into utilizing a wind powered energy system is relatively low in comparison to solar panel systems. Wind power is generally considered more efficient than solar systems, as wind can be a much more constant source of energy that continues regardless of the time of day. Wind energy systems can be implemented in varying sizes, ranging from micro turbines to industrial wind-farm turbines, allowing for a flexibility of system implementations.
Disadvantages of a Wind Powered System
There are some considerable disadvantages in implementing a wind energy system. Larger turbines generally have noise issues as long as environmental issues that accompany them. These turbines tend to be a great hazard for bird species that currently inhabit a potential wind turbine location. While wind turbines are often considered more efficient than solar systems, the locations for which these systems can achieve the desired efficiency can severely limit the places in which wind turbine systems can be successfully implemented.
Working at large multinationals as well as early-stage start-ups, Mark Anderson has written product specs, user guides, solutions proposals and white papers, as well as content for websites such as Kubisys.com and Otsw.com. He majored in English at Yale and is an award-winning speaker and writer.