Northern Rivers Review

Wind versus solar: Which should you choose in 2022?

Wind versus solar: Which should you choose in 2022?

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In the world of renewable energy, solar and wind energy are the closest competitors. They help in reducing pollution, creating more jobs, and producing clean energy for both dense cities and even rural areas in the world.

These two renewable energy producers are on their way to breaking our dependence on fossil fuels. That said when thinking of jumping into the 'renewable energy' bandwagon, which of these two should you choose to power your home?

In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive comparison of the two pioneers of renewable energy. Let's start!

Solar and wind energy explained

First off, let us give you a brief explanation of solar and wind energy.

Solar energy uses the power of the sun. With the use of photovoltaic cells, solar panels capture the sun's energy which is then transformed into electricity.

When talking about wind energy, we envision large, tall turbines in wide, open spaces. It creates energy when wind spins the blades to create kinetic energy that's converted into mechanical energy. The resulting mechanical energy is then sent to a turbine's generator to be converted into electricity.

Both are known as renewable and green energy since they use natural resources that don't produce pollutants and can be replenished and regenerated again and again.

Solar energy Vs wind energy: Cost comparison

Cost is one of the biggest factors that influence your decision between solar and wind energy. However, comparing the cost of these two energy sources can be quite complicated. There are a lot of considerations that go into it including energy output, installation cost, maintenance, tax credits, and so on.

That said, the estimated price for solar energy in Australia can range from AUD$2,800-AUD$14,000. The huge difference is mainly because of the size of the system you want, ranging from 2kW-10kW. However, you can also find government rebates and contractor discounts on most solar panels in Victoria or any other place in Australia

Wind energy, on the other hand, demands a higher cost due to the materials needed, specifically turbines. Small-scale residential wind turbines can cost you AUD$10,000-AUD$20,000 per turbine. In addition to the initial cost, you also need to consider your ongoing cost.

With solar panels, you don't have to worry about regular wear and tear from moving parts. So, there's not much maintenance cost after your initial investment. Wind turbines, however, need regular maintenance schedules from experts to ensure that turbine parts are working efficiently. Also, due to frequent spinning, turbines may need the occasional repair and replacement of certain parts.

So, when comparing solar and wind energy, based on the numbers above, solar energy is way cheaper for residential use. Plus, it's much more feasible and cost-effective to install. That said, you shouldn't rule out wind power completely. Wind does have its strength, which we'll discuss in this article.

Which produces the most electricity?

Conditions for solar panels are never perfect. So, don't expect them to be 100 per cent efficient. Most residential solar panels have about 20 per cent efficiency. You can also find super expensive panels that can bring you 40 per cent to 50 per cent energy efficiency.

Wind turbines, on the other hand, can convert 50 per cent to 90 per cent of the wind that passes through them. So, in terms of production efficiency, wind energy is the frontrunner. A single wind turbine can produce the same amount of electricity in kWh compared to tens of thousands of solar panels.

Wind versus solar: Which should you choose in 2022?

Also, wind turbines don't depend on the sun or daylight to generate power. So, as long as there's the wind that can turn the turbines, regardless of how faint, it can produce electricity day or night.

It all comes down to location

Wind outpaces solar in terms of overall electricity production, but solar panels are more cost-realistic than wind turbines.

What matters is your location. Even the high production efficiency of wind turbines won't do you any good if you live in densely populated areas. But if you live in rural areas with a large plot of land with lots of wind, then turbines are a good investment.

Solar remains to be the practical choice for both homeowners and commercial buildings due to its practicality and cost-effectiveness. Despite its low production efficiency, properly installed and well-maintained solar panels can provide you with clean energy to power your home whether you live in populated or rural areas.

A better option: Combining solar and wind

If you can't choose between the two, why not use both? Provided that you have the budget and acres of land, combining solar and wind energy offers you a unique opportunity to be off-grid.

By using both solar panels and wind turbines, you can be confident that your home and farm will always be supplied with power. If the weather is gloomy or during night time, wind energy can still supply you power.

A combined system will be pricey, however, there's also the opportunity to sell the extra energy back to the grid.

Takeaway

As you can see, the question of which is better will largely depend on your individual needs and location. Solar is currently dominating residential applications due to its practicality. But if you're looking to get the most out of your investment and want to make use of your wide-open lot, turbines are worth every penny.