Renewable energy is that which is obtained from renewable resources. With help of wind turbines and solar panels we can harvest energy from nature. These resources replenish naturally and will never be extinct. The benefits of renewable energy continue to gain recognition with more people showing interest in this type of energy. The two most popular types of renewable energy are solar and wind energy.

Many homeowners and businesses are switching to solar and wind energy sources to become more eco-friendly, money-efficient, and energy-efficient. Anyone considering installation of a renewable energy system in residential or commercial building should choose between solar and wind energy. To help you make an informed choice, let us look at the pros and cons of each type of energy and evaluate their efficiency.

Solar Energy and Solar panels

Solar panels - large scale electricity production

Solar energy is obtained through solar panels. They convert sunlight into useful electrical energy. The type of solar that you install on a roof is known as Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels. ‘Photo’ meaning light and ‘voltaic’ meaning related to electricity. PV solar plates function in collaboration with solar cells, the small particles that turn sunlight into electrical energy. If you group and fix together several solar cells, you create a solar plate that produces large amounts of energy.

Pros of Solar Energy

1. Renewable

The most notable and major benefit of solar plates is that they produce renewable energy. The energy can be harnessed in any part of the world and it is available daily. Unlike other energy sources, we can never use up all the solar energy available. Solar energy will continue to exist as long as the suns shine.

2. Lowers Electricity Bills

You can operate almost all electrical home appliances with solar energy. This will result in reduced electricity bills since your appliances will be running on solar energy. The amount you save on your electricity bill will depend on the size of the panel and your heat or electricity usage. Apart from saving on the energy bill, you can make more money by selling surplus energy to your local utility company.

3. Varied Applications

Solar energy is used for several purposes; solar plates generate heat or electricity. They are used in generation of electricity in areas that are connected to an energy grid, water distillation, and power satellites while in space. It is also now possible to integrate solar energy into building materials, for example, solar energy windows.

4. Low Maintenance

Once the solar panel is safely on the roof top, it does not need a lot of maintenance. You only have to clean it several times a year. Also, solar plates have no moving parts, which rules out wear and tear. The only part that needs changing is the inverter as it does the work of converting solar energy into heat and electrical power. The inverter is changed after 5-10 years. The cables also require maintenance to ensure maximum efficiency of the solar power system.

Cons of Solar Energy

1. Cost

The initial purchasing and installation cost of a solar system is quite high. The costs include that of the panels, batteries, inverter, wiring, and installation. But, solar technology is evolving; hence it is safe to hope for lower prices in the near future.

2. Weather Reliant

Although you can still collect solar energy on rainy and cloudy days; its efficiency drops when there is less sunlight. Solar plates depend on sunlight to collect solar energy effectively. Also, you cannot collect solar energy at night.

3. Occupies a Lot of Space

The size of the solar plates determines how much electricity you will get. The larger the solar panel, the more electricity you will generate. Solar PV panels need large spaces to install where some roofs may not accommodate them.

4. Expensive Storage

Solar energy is used as soon as it is collected or you can store it in large batteries. The batteries are in off-the-grid systems where they charge at daytime for the energy to be used during the night. You can opt to use solar energy in daytime and use electricity from the grid at night.

Wind turbines

Wind turbine - harvest the power of the wind

These turbines produce energy through naturally occurring wind power generator. Wind is captured in a wind power generator is immediately convert into electricity. The electricity generated is transported to a transformer using cables and then to a wind-farm substation. At the substation, it is converted into a voltage suitable for the grid and distributed to buildings. The turbines are fitted with an anemometer that determines the direction of the blades depending on the direction of the wind.

Pros of wind turbines

1. Sustainable and Renewable

The wind is both a sustainable and a renewable resource. It is different from fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal that run out after prolonged extraction. This means that turbines are a reliable source of energy for future demands in energy.

2. Environmentally Friendly

Wind energy ranks among the most environmentally friendly sources of energy ever invented. The turbines do not pollute the environment in the process of electricity generation.

Non-renewable energy sources burnt for them to produce electricity. The burning process releases harmful gases such as methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The gases play a part in climate change, but, the turbines do not produce any greenhouse gases as they produce electricity.

3. Low Maintenance

Wind turbines are low maintenance and can go for several months before maintenance checkups. Also, as wind is free, running costs for the turbine are low. All that is required is to purchase a turbine, install, and regularly maintain the turbines.

4. Minimal Impact on Land

These turbines have a small land footprint. Despite them towering high above, they have minimal impact on the ground below. They are installed on hilltops, fields, and out at sea. When in these locations, they do not inconvenience the surrounding land. Farming can still go on in the presence of turbines, as well as grazing livestock and fishing.

5. Powers Remote Locations

Remote locations that are not connected to a power grid can install these turbines. This is also beneficial to remote research facilities such as those located in the wild or out in the sea.

6. Available for Domestic and Industrial Use

This type of energy is not a preserve of large wind farms; there are smaller turbines that are less powerful to be used in residential places, factories, and farms. There are also portable turbines that power your devices while you are on the go.

Domestic turbines assist in supplying electricity in some parts of a building. The installations work together with other technologies that employ renewable energy. They are mostly placed alongside geothermal heating systems and solar plates.

7. Wind Energy is Becoming Cheaper

These turbines were first used in 1888. They have since become more affordable and efficient leading to a boom in this industry. It is common to spot standalone turbines and wind farms in most countries. Also, government subsidies also help in reducing the cost of this energy. Many countries all over the world give incentives for installation of turbines.

Cons of wind turbines

1. Wind Changes

Wind energy has a disadvantage similar to solar energy; it’s inconstant. Although wind is a sustainable resource, its speed can change. These turbines work best when wind speeds are high, therefore, when this changes, it significantly affects the effectiveness of a turbine. It is for this reason that utility companies invest time and money to research the best locations to install turbines.

To achieve efficiency, a turbine requires sufficient availability of wind energy. This is why you see turbines in the sea or on hilltops where there are less land obstacles to affect wind force.

2. Noise Pollution

The turbines produce a lot of noise hence causing noise pollution. It is possible to hear them even when very far away depending on the direction of the wind. The presence of multiple turbines and sufficient wind direction will have high impacts on noise production.

Noise pollution courtesy of turbines has destroyed the comfort of many homeowners. For this reason, installation of new wind farms is always met with strong opposition from the public.

3. Expensive

Although costs continue to reduce, turbines still remain an expensive investment. Before installation, an engineer carries out a site survey to determine wind speeds. After establishing that there is enough wind to sustain turbines, you will then purchase the turbine, transport it to the site and install. The processes impact the overall cost of installing turbines.

4. Threat to Wildlife

Wildlife is threatened by these turbines, especially bats and birds. Although other man made installations such as radio towers and phone masts pose more danger to birds turbines still affect bat and bird populations.

5. Create Visual Pollution

Another disadvantage of wind power generators is that they create visual pollution. Not everyone likes the sight of turbines; they perceive them as a blemish on the landscape. However, this boils down to individual opinion, as more wind farms come up, public acceptance will continue to grow.

In conclusion, based on the information above, you are now in a position to choose the type of renewable energy that best suits you. Let us all adapt to renewable and sustainable energy that is friendly to the environment.