Author Options:

Solar Versus Wind Power: Which Has The Most Stable Power Output? Answered

Due to the larger magnitude of solar PV power output fluctuations relative to those of wind at time scales shorter than approximately 31⁄2 hours, the costs of large scale solar PV integration are likely to be larger than those of wind.

via Treehugger


It really does depend on where you live. What probably matters more than which is better (stable or whatever measure) is the idea of getting the power to where it is needed, when it is needed. I have been living in the North Texas Panhandle (for some reason they call it "West Texas") since last July. I am hear to swear that the wind NEVER stops blowing. It is blowing like stink (15 to 25) right now and has been for days. With all the wind you don't have to go very far to find a windmill farm and more are planned. One concern slowing the construction is that this area of the country is off of the national grid. The power generated here, stays here. Wind power is supplementing the coal fired electric that is very common in Texas. Still, a few weeks ago a cold front pushed a warm front out. When that happened the wind stopped for a few hours. Simultaneously the demand for heat went wild. The local electric company had to shut off power to commercial customers to satisfy the demand for residential electric heat. Since the electric company had a plan, you have to believe that this has happened before. But it had never happened here. There is also puh-lenty of sunlight here. This isn't the Arizona desert, but I think solar panels could supplement the wind if it comes to that. The wind is always blowing somewhere in the Midwest and the sun usually shines somewhere in Arizona. Between solar from Arizona and wind from the Midwest, I think we have a great shot at energy independence from petroleum. All we need is wires from those places to the grid.

its worth noteing that windmills, often located on hills or off shore, ruin the landscape and beauty of those places.

Besides the fact that your opinion of their aesthetics differs from mine, it is worth replying that most often windmills are located deep inland. The three largest wind farms in the world (two in Texas and one in Calif) are nowhere near a hill, shore or water feature. Five other windmill farms in Texas are still further inland from the two biggies with many (MANY) more windmills planned for the northern Texas Panhandle. So you should not be too offended unless you get off of Old Route 66 and go looking across otherwise barren plains for them. Next time you go through Sweetwater, TX on I-20, drive south about 5 miles, get out, and look around. You are standing in the middle of the biggest farm in the world. Windmills literally disappear over the horizon northeast toward Abilene. At night hundreds of red lights on top of them blink at the same time. Very strange feeling to see that. If you can't find any beauty in man's accomplishments, well, I guess that's okay for you.

My guesstamation would be that solar would have a more constant output , because winds can change at any time not to say that when you had a dreary day that was really windy , i guess it all depends on where your located.

At higher altitudes (40 feet and up) wind remain pretty constant

I was thinking about the 20-40ft since that's where any homemade models I build will be erected. Thanks for that fact though.

Glad I could help. The number isn't exact, it was just off the top of my head, so please double check.

My first thought is that, with present day technology, the impact to the environment will be less with wind power then it will be with solar, when these devices start to wear out and need replacing.


10 years ago

Hmm... looks like this study only looked at the frequency spectrum of power output of the two technologies, not at the *demand*. In very sunny areas, demand for power often peaks when the output from solar PV peaks, because of air conditioning units kicking in. Even without taking AC into account, daytime power demand is typically larger than night time demand. Any study that doesn't take those factors into account for solar PV seems rather suspect, if you ask me...