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The Efficiency of Wind Power Compared to Solar Panels

April 27, 2022
By John Cole

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Which is more efficient, wind power or solar energy? Property owners often ask this question, to help decide if solar is worth the investment. Also, bringing green energy solutions to your neighborhood can mean more affordable power and lower pollution rates. However, it’s vital that you know which is the best investment both initially and over time!

Both wind power and solar energy offer lots of benefits for individual property owners and area neighborhoods. That being said, it’s vital to understand their differences as well as pros and cons. In turn, you can decide the right choice for your individual use or to bring to your local neighborhood. Check out some vital information about wind turbine efficiency, especially as compared to solar panels.

What’s More Efficient, Solar or Wind?

Strictly speaking, wind power offers more efficiency than solar arrays. A solar panel might convert 20% of energy harnessed from the sun into usable power. On the other hand, wind turbines often convert 60% of wind energy into electricity, if not even more. In turn, a wind turbine is more efficient at creating electricity that you can use for your home or neighborhood.

wind and solar energy power plant

Also, note that turbines don’t rely on sunlight to convert wind into energy. Consequently, they work at night, during cloudy days, in winter months, and so on. This makes them an excellent choice for areas with long winters, frequent cloud cover, and other such weather conditions. Some experts even suggest that one wind turbine can produce the same energy as thousands of solar panels!

With this in mind, you might wonder if wind turbines are the better choice versus solar panels. While wind power does offer some advantages, it’s not a perfect solution for enjoying clean, green energy. Note some additional pros and cons of turbines and why solar energy is often preferred for individual property owners.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Wind Power?

Wind power’s efficiency is probably its best advantage, as well as wind turbines working all day, every day! In turn, wind turbines might create more usable power than solar panels overall. Also, wind power is completely renewable. In other words, you don’t need to actively replenish the wind used by turbines to generate electricity.

However, a turbine’s size makes it cumbersome if not impossible to install on many private properties. Most wind turbines stand 30 to 180 feet tall, and about 80 feet on average. Blades might also average over 100 feet in width. Consequently, you cannot simply install a wind turbine on a residential lot in just any city.

Also, remember that turbines need unobstructed wind to run effectively. Buildings, billboards, mature trees, and other obstructions common in cities and suburban areas block wind. In turn, turbines might not harness the energy you expect even if you could install them on a city lot. Open air properties are a better choice for turbines, which then limits their use.

Lastly, consider that a solar array system might cost several thousand dollars, an affordable price for many homeowners. On the other hand, one wind turbine often costs about $75,000 before tax credits and other incentives! In addition to the purchase price, note that solar panels don’t have any moving parts. Therefore, they need little or no maintenance over the years, also making them more affordable for property owners.

A solar farm where wind power isn't available.

How Long Do Wind Turbines Last?

Another downside to wind turbines is that they might last only 20 years or so. After that time, blades need replacing. However, given their size, removing and replacing blades is typically challenging and expensive! Additionally, those blades often end up in landfills.

On the other hand, homeowners usually replace solar panels after about 30 years. At that time, panels don’t necessarily fail outright. Instead, solar panels lose effectiveness at about 1% per year. In other words, after 30 years, solar panels are only 70% effective in harnessing the sun’s energy.

At that time, solar panels don’t necessarily wind up in landfills. Instead, a homeowner might donate them to a school, library, and so on. Those public facilities might pay a small fee for their installation and then enjoy lower utility costs over the years. While older panels might not cut their electricity bills completely, they can still save those municipalities some money!

Also, note that solar panel glass, wiring, metal frames, and other pieces are very recyclable. In turn, there is little reason to just put them in a landfill. Recyclable solar panels then translate into less trash while also creating jobs for recycling centers.

What Are the Advantages of Solar Power?

While wind turbines offer some advantages over solar, many property owners still choose solar energy for their homes and businesses. Consider some solar panel advantages so you know if they’re right for your private property or local municipality.

  • Solar panels fit on rooftops or along the ground somewhat easily. In turn, even the smallest home or property can fit a solar array.
  • Since solar racking systems can sit on the ground, cities can choose solar farms! A contractor might install a solar farm along a highway or other such open area. Then, area residents all invest in that array and enjoy the power it produces.
  • A solar panel system often increases home values. Investing in solar now can then mean more offers and higher bids if you put your home on the market.
  • Note that solar panels are more affordable than ever before. Also, tax credits and other incentives make it even easier to buy solar power.
  • Lower energy costs are the main reason to choose solar power! Net metering allows you to sell solar power back to your local utility company, who credits your power bill accordingly. Consequently, you can save thousands of dollars in energy costs over the course of home ownership.
  • Choosing clean, green solar energy means reducing your carbon footprint and producing fewer pollutants due to energy consumption.

Green Energy Geeks is happy to provide this vital information about wind power to our readers. Hopefully you found it helpful in comparing wind versus solar energy. If you’re thinking of shifting to green energy, call our Florida solar panel installation contractors. We offer FREE consultations and outstanding customer support. For more information, contact us today!

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