Solar or wind energy – Which one is a better option?, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld


Have you ever wondered which of the two, solar or wind, is the better option? But how do you even decide which is the better one, on what parameters?

The primary differences between the two are well known. Solar panels have an efficiency rate of 20-25%, it hardly requires any complicated maintenance, it just requires regular cleaning. A common myth about solar is that it only generates energy on sunny days. A solar system works during the day when there is available sunlight, and to power your house at night, batteries can be incorporated into the system to store the produced energy for later use.

It is a much more realistic and feasible option for households to adopt because it can be installed on your rooftop without any hassle. It is much more suitable for urban areas where there is no available land to install wind farms. Panels don’t make noise, unlike turbines. And 97% of the materials in a panel are recyclable.

FACT- If you look at the number of deaths due to accidents and air pollution per TWh of energy produced, for solar it is 0.02, and for wind it is 0.04. Just to put things in perspective coal causes 24.62 deaths.

On the other hand, wind turbines have a lifespan of about 20 years, and it has an efficiency of 30 to 60%. Strong wind is much less abundant as compared to the almost ubiquitous sunrays incidence. And the system requires a lot more maintenance. While building a wind farm is advantageous for large-scale utility, choosing the location is the key to unlocking its true potential.

Installation costs of such gigantic structures are exorbitantly high, it is challenging to build. Wind farms are usually located in remote areas, making the transmission a task to pull off. Disposing of wind turbines is also proving to be a growing environmental problem. It is an extremely useful technology in offshore areas and can be integrated with scenic landscape locations.

Solar and Wind, not a Competition but a Conjunction

Wind solar hybrid (WSH) solutions are key to net zero plans- the intensity of the sun and speed of wind are always varying, and both systems are connected to a battery to store unused energy, much more cost-effective. What are the benefits of such a combination? The complementary nature of both the systems would ensure that there would be much less variability in the energy produced, both systems will work quite well in unison.

The derived setup would be extremely reliable, ensuring an uninterrupted 24 hours- 365 days clean energy supply, and would require a much smaller battery Of whatever energy capacity we added last year, solar and wind power constituted 92% of it. We installed about 13,872 MW of solar capacity and 1,828 MW of wind energy capacity in 2022.

In the last decade, solar power capacity has increased by 20 times. India is ranked number four in terms of installed capacity in solar, wind and overall renewable energy. Solar cost is predicted to decline 40 times in 30 years, and wind cost by 30 times in 40 years. The eventual reality will not be just plain vanilla, there can never be one clear winner in such things, it is not a race in which all the industries are competing. The path to a low-carbon future is not just solar energy or just wind energy, but the two technologies working in tandem.

[This piece was written by Samir D’souza, Assistant Vice President – Business Development, Oorjan Cleantech]

  • Published On Jun 30, 2023 at 01:45 PM IST

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