Wind and solar power are the two biggest types of renewable energy. As you look through electric plans you’ll see them mentioned quite often. While you probably realize there’s an obvious difference, you may not know exactly what the differences and the benefits of each are.
How Solar Energy Works
You’ve probably seen solar panels on rooftops. You may have even seen a solar farm – acres of black, shiny panels on racks. These panels contain photovoltaic cells that turn light into energy. However, there’s also another type of solar energy, albeit less common. This is solar thermal energy, which concentrates the sun’s rays on mirrors that heat a fluid (usually water), turning it into steam that powers turbines and makes energy.
There are a lot of great advantages to using solar energy, including:
- Solar panels don’t have to take up land space since they can be mounted on rooftops, which is great in urban areas in particular.
- There’s no noise when solar energy is made.
- There are no moving parts. Therefore, these panels don’t need a lot of maintenance.
- It’s easy to generate and transport solar energy.
- You can make solar energy regardless of the air temperature. As long as there’s sunshine, energy can be made.
How Wind Energy Works
Wind energy can only be made by wind turbines that are located at high altitudes. These turbines depend on the wind to push the blades into motion. When this happens, a shaft turns, powering a generator that creates the electricity. From there it’s then transported to customers.
As with solar energy, wind energy also has an impressive list of advantages, which include:
- This is a clean fuel source. It doesn’t pollute the air like power plans that rely on the combustion of fossil fuels do.
- Ranch and farm owners living in rural areas can make extra money by leasing their available land to wind power companies.
- Wind power is cost-effective because it’s so abundant.
There are a few drawbacks to using wind power. The biggest problem with wind energy is that where it’s the most abundant is in very remote areas. As such, it’s costly to transport it. Another issue is that turbines are very noisy.
Main Differences Between Wind Energy and Solar Energy
Wind energy and solar energy are different types of green energy in the way they’re made. Clearly, there are some other differences you must consider as well, like the availability depending on weather conditions and storage capabilities. These differences should help you decide which of these forms of energy is best for you, your home and the planet.