Solar vs Wind Power: Which is Best?

Two of the most common sustainable energy sources are wind and solar power.  While geothermal and hydroelectric options are available

solar and wind energy

There’s never been a better time to invest in sustainable energy.  Sustainable energy (also known as “green energy”) is cost-effective, as well as being a wonderful point of good public relations in one’s community.

Two of the most common sustainable energy sources are wind and solar power.  While geothermal and hydroelectric options are available for parts of the country, wind and solar power can be installed in almost any area.

For commercial applications, here are some of the key points of the solar vs wind power debate.

Wind is More Common

According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2017 about 17% of electricity generation in the US came from renewable resources.  (Any electricity source not coming from fossil fuels is considered “renewable,” including burning wood, methane from compost/garbage, as well as wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) Hydropower and wind, by far, generated the most renewable energy in the US last year.

Wind power is incredibly efficient, requiring only about an average of 12 mph winds to operate at full capacity.  Though individual wind turbines and even ground-level wind turbines can be installed, the majority of wind electricity plants are “farm style”– where many large wind turbines are installed in a singular area, where they direct power onto the electrical grid.

Pros: Efficient and effective

Cons: Large, costly, unsightly

Though very large companies, such as Facebook and Amazon may create their own wind power generation farms, it is far more common for a company to purchase wind power to offset energy use, such as Google has done.

Solar is More Accessible

Driven by improvements in technology and reduction in cost, solar energy resources have grown rapidly in the past few years. There are now nearly 2 million solar installations in the US.  Like other renewable energy resources, solar energy comes with federal (and often, state) tax incentives to help offset cost of installation.  Since solar is already less expensive than many other types of energy resourcing, that incentive can make a tremendous difference.

For commercial application, some power companies will even work with a business to cover the cost of solar installation for their contracted business partners, knowing that the technology pays for itself in a short period of time with “power back to the grid” or reduced expenses for both the user and service provider.

In many cases, solar energy is also easier to maintain than wind power.  Solar panels without moving parts (by far, the most common for onsite use), have less need for maintenance and repair.

Solar panels are much smaller than wind turbines (which need to be installed above the ground where wind blows more regularly), with size variances easily tailored to be site-specific.

Pros: Efficient, effective, less obstructive

Cons: Require daylight/sunshine

Though solar technologies do continue to improve, they require sunlight.  Partially overcast days and shorter daylight hours are still acceptable for some solar technologies, but in very northern (short day) or highly overcast environments, solar panels may not generate enough energy to justify their use.

Get Started with Energy Professionals

When you work with an energy broker, you work with an independent agent to maximize your energy experience.  Energy Professionals specializes in helping you reduce and control your energy budget, and realize your sustainability goals.

Our experts will work with you to understand your energy needs, ensure that you meet them, but also plan for continued budget reduction with longevity planning.  Whether wind, solar or some other technology will best suit your needs, we also specialize in securing the sustainable energy resources that will provide you with an optimized solution.

Contact us today to find out more.

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