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Difference Between Wind Power and Solar Power

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Wind Power vs Solar Power

With fuel prices rising on a consistent basis, the search for alternative power is also on the rise. Two very popular alternatives are wind power and solar power. The main difference between wind power and solar power is when they are available. Although both are intermittent, wind power is available throughout the day while solar power is only available during the day for obvious reasons. This has serious implications in distributing power as power consumption goes on even through the night.

There is also a major difference in how wind power and solar power is extracted. Wind power is extracted mechanically via turning turbines that produce electricity. In contrast, there are two ways to extract solar power. The first is via the popular solar panels, which directly converts sunlight into electricity. The second way is by using the heat from the sun to generate steam. The steam turns the turbines that will produce electricity.

Solar power is also advantageous for the ordinary person as you are able to utilize it personally. If you just want small amounts of power to charge your phone, tablet, or other mobile devices, you can employ small solar cells to achieve that. Another area where solar power wins is with electric vehicles. This is illustrated by the solar challenge where the vehicles are not allowed to use any energy source aside from the sun. You cannot do those with wind power as it would not really be practical. A small wind turbine would still be too large while a wind turbine on a vehicle would create more drag than the energy it would produce.

A major advantage of wind power is relatively small footprint. Solar power plants require a large tract of land in order to catch as much sunlight as possible. With wind power, land is not as important as the strength of the wind. Add to that the fact the winds are stronger and more consistent over water. That is why the construction of off-shore wind farms is common practice.

Summary:

  1. Solar power is only available during the day while wind power is available even at night
  2. Wind power is mechanical while solar power can be mechanical or purely electrical
  3. Solar power can be extracted at minute amounts while the same cannot be done with wind power
  4. Solar power can be used with vehicles but not wind power
  5. Wind power does not take up as much land as solar power

 


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