The rise of renewable energy often follows crises, such as in the 1970s during oil sanctions that quadrupled oil prices, prompting efforts to find alternatives to fossil fuels, including solar power and wind power. The 2008-09 global economic crisis led to several governments linking part of their financial stimulus to investment in clean energy. Immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, renewable energy investment reached its highest level since the Great Recession due to the unprecedented energy shock.
Current European crises have prompted Western economies to look at renewable energy sources. At this moment, two of the most popular renewable energy sources are solar and wind.
In light of Solar’s decreasing cost, homeowners have never been better off investing in the technology. It reduces customers’ carbon footprint and energy expenditures due to the ease of use. But humans used wind for thousands of years before the modern wind turbine arrived on the scene. Last year, wind generated 5% more energy than solar.
How Wind & Solar Energy is Produced?
Wind & Solar play a significant role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar panels and wind turbines are the tools for producing solar and wind power. The photovoltaic cells inside solar panels transform the sun’s radiation into electricity.
The wind is also a form of solar energy. The disparity in atmospheric pressure induced by the sun’s radiation creates wind. It is a motion-based form of energy.
When the wind spins the turbine blades, its generator converts the energy of the rotating blade into mechanical power. It is then converted into electric power to power residential and commercial sectors. Wind and sunlight are domestic energy sources, and they are sustainable, abundant, and inexhaustible.
Benefits & Drawbacks of Wind & Solar Energy
Benefits of Wind & Solar Energy
- They cut down on air pollution.
- They can be produced domestically to reduce foreign dependence to fulfill energy needs.
- Boosts local infrastructure & economies.
- Lower operational cost as compared to non-renewable resources.
- Provide backup power in case of emergency.
- The source cannot be deleted.
Drawbacks of Wind & Solar Energy
- They are inconsistent with power resources.
- They rely heavily on government subsidies.
- Solar panels and turbines can be expensive to manufacture and install.
- Panels and Turbines are made with rare, expensive earth materials.
Solar V/S Wind Energy: Efficiency & Feasibility
Solar is the most familiar residential renewable energy system, but is it more efficient than wind energy? The market’s most efficient residential solar panel can transform 20% of energy harnessed from the sun. Wind turbines, on the other hand, may convert between 60 and 90 percent of the energy they capture from the wind. Therefore, in terms of natural, clean energy, the wind is the most effective source.
Wind energy can generate electricity any time of the day because it doesn’t rely on the sun or daylight, unlike solar. In comparison to hundreds of solar panels, a single wind turbine may provide the same amount of electricity in kilowatt-hours.
Of course, every source of energy has limitations. Wind turbines are more frequently found in rural areas around the world since they aren’t ideal for densely populated urban areas. Since a typical household wind turbine reaches around 80 feet, it would only be practical for homeowners in windy, rural areas with large open fields.
Solar panels are very practical and can be put on practically any roof or ground surface, which is a benefit for residential properties wishing to tap into greener energy sources. Through a local solar community initiative, many homeowners, companies, and renters can also go solar without having to install anything on their roofs.
Cost of Solar Energy v/s Wind Energy
Comparing the cost of solar vs. wind energy is not as simple as it may sound since many components go into it, installation cost, energy output, tax credits, maintenance, etc.
Depending upon the service provider, the size of the plant, and other criteria, wind energy installation costs approximately Rs. 1-6 crore. An 80 percent tax benefit is provided as depreciation for the first year. Yearly operation costs are between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 50,000, including insurance.
In India, the cost to install solar panels is currently around Rs. 7 per watt. The cost of installing a 10kW plant is Rs. 70,000, while solar panel maintenance and operation costs are considerably lower. Additionally, you’ll gain from government subsidies. In this case, we can conclude that solar energy is more economical than wind power.
Advantages of solar energy over wind power:
- Solar energy provides a more predictable energy output than wind energy. Energy production is possible on a massive scale with solar farms.
- Unlike wind turbines, Solar panels don’t require vast space for installation as they can be installed on the roofs of houses or offices.
- Solar panels hardly produce any noise, while wind turbines are noisy.
Advantages of wind power over solar power:
- Solar energy cannot be harnessed at night or during cloudy conditions, while wind energy can be harnessed even at night.
- A wind turbine is more efficient than a solar panel. There is less CO2 released into the atmosphere when wind turbines are used. Solar panels produce 70 grams of CO2 per kWh, whereas wind turbines produce 4.64 grams.
- Wind power consumes less energy and produces more energy compared to solar panels.
Which is the best option for energy generation?
As mentioned, solar energy is more affordable than wind energy. The ideal alternative is to power one’s home using a variety of sustainable energy sources, such as solar power and wind power. However, it only makes sense in rural areas where there is vast open space available.
Solar panels are the better option for households searching for a renewable energy source out of the two due to their inexpensive installation costs and minimal maintenance requirements.