What Produces More Energy: Wind Turbines or Solar Energy?

Updated April 17, 2017

In the search for power, man seeks to find the most efficient yet least polluting source of energy. A general solution for this need is exploiting renewable sources including solar and wind energy. However, renewable sources of energy have varying effectiveness and cost in their uses and installation, thus making some more preferable than others.

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines use wind energy to drive and power electric generators. Technically, the bigger the turbine, the more power it produces. Wind turbines range from large scale power producing turbines capable of powering hundreds of homes to small scale ones for individual home uses. Utility-scale turbines produce power between 50 and 750 kilowatts and those producing anything below that are those used for powering homes and pumping water.

Solar Energy

Through solar panels and solar thermal technology, people are able to tap power from the Sun and use it to produce electricity for heating water and powering air conditioning. In Los Angeles, for example, the total power that rooftop solar panels alone can produce if installed on every rooftop is estimated at 19 million kilowatts for the 1,276,609 homes in the city, according to a study released by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)'s Luskin Center for Innovation.

Comparison Between Solar and Wind Energy

The Sun influences the presence of wind. Heat from the Sun causes uneven temperatures within the atmosphere which causes movement of air, thus making wind dependant on the Sun. Going by calculations from the two examples, Los Angeles and utility wind turbines, power produced is approximately 15 kilowatts from solar energy as compared to 50 kilowatts from wind turbines, making wind a more powerful source.

Other Factors to Consider

Because neither wind nor sunlight is ever-present, the times when these sources can be used are limited to windy weather for wind exploitation and daytime for the latter. Nevertheless, it is possible to store energy from both sources for future use, but this raises their costs of installation. Another factor to consider is the efficiency of the systems. Although turbines produce more power, solar panels are more efficient given all the limiting factors for wind power production, such as wind intensity. As for solar panels, the least of sunlight is able to produce electricity. In the end, solar power is better than wind power.

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About the Author

Toronto resident Reuben James began his writing career in 2003 in the city of London. He has written articles for the English Journal, an online magazine with readership across Europe. James graduated from the London College of Communications with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. He also holds a diploma in business management from Metropolitan Business School, London.