Solar and Wind

I often see articles about renewable energy where "solar and wind" are grouped as the main alternatives. This is misleading as there is a big difference in the underlying economics. Wind is about 5x more cost effective at producing electricity than solar PV. Wind has a real chance of making a meaningful contribution to our energy situation over the next couple of decades, PV does not. It's misleading to mention them together in the same sentence as though they were somehow equivalent.

Large wind cost about $1.8 per watt to install and will produce power (in appropriate locations) for about 9-10 hours a day. Solar PV cost about $5-6/watt to install and will produce power for about 5-6 hours a day.

A modest US home uses an average continuous power of about 2000 watts. Using wind, this will cost about $10,000. Using solar, this will cost around $50,000.

Plus the wind equipment is more reliable since it directly drives a generator, whereas the solar PV produces DC power which must be inverted to tie into our electric grid.

Solar PV has its competitive advantage powering off-grid loads, such as remote cabins or school crossing signs.

The point of this post is to try to prevent the baby from being tossed out with the bath water. Wind is viable and might get a black eye if it is too closely associated with Solar PV which is non-viable.

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