Wind Versus Solar

The electricity needs of a single-family may be provided by a small wind turbine with a power between 1 and 50 kilowatts (kW). On the other hand, those same electricity needs may also be furnished by some small PV modules.

Which is, in this case, the better option: solar or wind energy?

In abstract, considering equally very good sunlight and wind resources, small wind systems have some advantages over solar PV systems: the initial investment is lower, and the energy output is at least equivalent to that of solar PV systems. The costs of a solar PV system are often 20%-50% higher than those demanded by a wind system with an equivalent output in terms of electricity.

But this is indeed a very abstract reasoning. Wind energy systems are more dependent on wind resources than solar solutions, and these allow a wider range of applications and less constraints in terms of location.

The Location Issue

The output of wind systems are very dependent on wind speeds. Places with low or medium wind speeds will produce expensive electricity. Besides, wind systems aren’t used in urban and suburban environments (due to reasons related with safety, obstructions and aesthetics).

Advantages Of A Solar PV System

Solar PV (photovoltaic) systems (for electricity production) are less dependent on sun resources than wind systems are on wind resources. The number of sunny days is important for solar systems efficiency, but not so determinant. Besides, PV solar systems can be installed without problems in most urban sites

Solar energy has also advantageous features over wind systems: lower maintenance costs, silent operation.

Cases Where Solar Is A Better Option

If you:

  • Live in a low-windy location
  • Live in an urban or suburban place
  • Live in a particularly sunny place

Cases Where Wind Is A Better Option

If you:

  • Live in a remote open area
  • if your home is in a windy location (the average wind speed should be at least 11 to 13 miles per hour/6 meters per second)