Solar vs. Wind Energy: What’s the Difference?

time lapse photography of railway and building during nighttime

Both solar and wind energy have the potential to power our world, but which one is better? The answer depends on where you live! In many areas, solar panels work best because they can be installed anywhere there’s exposure to sunlight. Other places may require wind turbines to harness the energy from winds that are constantly blowing. It is important to know the difference, so you can make intelligent decisions on where to invest!

Solar Energy

Solar photovoltaic panels are a great way to offset traditional, nonrenewable energy (fossil fuels). In some cases, homeowners or businesses can implement a battery system, like Sonnen or the Tesla Powerwall, and become independent from the grid or prepared with power if the grid fails. They’re made to collect light from the sun and convert it into electricity. A solar panel can be placed on your roof, on your car, or on a sign in your front yard! They can be used on backpacking trips to charge a flashlight, or in rural areas to power a well pump!

Solar panels require sunlight to work; with the help of an inverter, the electricity generated within the PV cell (DC) can be converted to energy that is safe to use (AC). To be effective, a solar panel must be exposed to sunlight for more than 6 sun hours. That’s why they are most commonly placed on south-facing rooftops, cars, or boats , where the sun can be most directly overhead. The amount of power a solar panel can generate depends on the area where it is located. The lower the angle of the sun in the sky, the more power it will produce!

Wind energy

Windmills stand up to 50 meters (164 feet) tall and generate energy by spinning. At lower speeds, wind turbines work like a conventional fan, moving air across a surface. However, as the wind picks up, a turbine can actually harness the wind energy and turn it into usable electricity. Wind turbines don’t have a direct connection to our homes. The wind is generated hundreds of miles away, and it takes power lines to bring the energy to your house.

On average, wind farms require an investment of $1 – 2 million to build, with a lifespan of 25 years. The equipment is difficult to recycle, and energy intensive to create – but, wind farms are an excellent option for harnessing the natural energy that is available to us.

Which type of energy is more effective?

Ultimately, you need to find out what type of energy will best suit your needs. What matters most is that you’re taking the time to research the best options and implement them into your home or business.

Today, there are many alternatives to purchasing energy from the traditional energy grid, like community solar farms or power purchase agreements. In the end, investing in renewables will make you more energy independent and save you money on your monthly energy bill. This is key if you want to live sustainably and preserve our planet for future generations.

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sarahkatwhite
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