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Archive: 09/05/2022

Wind energy or Photovoltaic, which is the best?

Nowadays there are several sources that are not affected by quantity limitations because are renewed by the nature in different way, they are the renewable energies. The two most common and developed are wind energy (on-shore and off-shore) and solar (as photovoltaic), with some advantages according to the location where they will be placed, both are governed by environmental conditions.

Wind energy has the greatest advantage high energy density which relates to energy production in kWh and land occupied in sqm because they are developed vertically, on the other hand wind turbines can handle wind speeds from 3 m/s (cut-in) to 25 m/s (cut-out parameter).

Solar, photovoltaic energy has the greatest advantage to be cheaper than wind turbine, no cut-out parameter but they require more land area to achieve same energy production.

Over the years, cost of kW installed of both systems falls down until now when photovoltaic is cheaper the onshore wind energy, passing from barely 5000 usd/kW to less then 1000 usd in 10 years, while wind energy decreasing is less pronounced.

One the parameter that can help the reader to get a clear information of performance difference of both sources is the capacity factor.

Can be defined as the

unitless ratio of actual electrical energy output over a given period of time divided by the theoretical continuous maximum electrical energy output over that period.

The graph shows the capacity factor of all renewable energy sources and can be noticed that photovoltaic has a lower capacity than wind but at a cost that is 3 times lower than offshore wind and 0.5 times lower than onshore wind.