I just published this detailed post on solar pv vs. wind turbines for installations of the same cost:



I'm starting to come to the conclusion that except for a few spots in the U.S. (mostly in AK, HI, or on top of mountains) residential wind will always lose to solar PV assuming optimal locations for both (i.e. no shading on solar panels, no obstructions blocking wind) and the same capital outlay at the onset.  


I'm going to work on another blog post highlighting this fact, because it is rarely covered by most news media who don't even know the difference between a kW and a kWh, let alone know how to do the analysis themselves.  


What I'm looking for is someone who can tell me I am missing something in the analysis?  Any thoughts?

Tags: comparison, solar, vs., wind

Views: 82

Replies to This Discussion

It's a reasonable start anyway. However the 35 foot tower is no where near high enough, especially with the tall trees in the photo. 90 ft would be a minimum height and mite double the average wind speed to get eight times the kwh but 110 would be better even with a cost increase. I know Southwest Wind is coming out with a low start up wind speed turbine this year and that up the yearly output of the turbine. The other factor is the life time performance and the expected life time or replacement cost at end of life.
Good input Leo, but how many residential wind turbines are on towers over 90 ft?  I wonder how practical that is in practice?  And even then, does the wind turbine outperform solar?  My gut is telling me no.

On cloudy days, especially when they are contiguous and numerous, wind will provide greater benefit.

What is the larger question?  How flexible are the people (and other entities) involved?

David, did you check out the original post? I'm speaking on an annual basis.  Cloudy days don't necessarily mean wind, and solar will still produce electricity even on cloudy days.  On an annual basis, I'd be surprised if there were many places where resi wind beats solar. 

Nope.  I responded to your question.  It wasn't serious?

Who lives on an annual basis?

Ok, I didn't word my question effectively.  What I meant to say, "Even on a 100 ft tower, does a wind turbine outperform solar on an annual basis"  Again, I'm sure there are locations where this is the case, but these are few and far between, and outside of the majority of the U.S. population.


Everyone lives on an annual basis when it comes to analyzing what the better return on energy investment is.

"Everyone lives on an annual basis when it comes to analyzing what the better return on energy investment is."

Then, hopefully, each is very flexible.  Lately, fewer and fewer days seem to be average days.

Well Dave, luckily I have one of the most popular posts on the web for finding your city's temperature and weather history.  Of course I haven't instructed people how they can predict the future, but based on all available information, I can tell them what their best available options are.
Thanks for what you're doing, Chris.  I hope your feeling was that I was playing with you in a friendly way.
No worries!   But seriously, let's try and get to the bottom of this issue!  I would like to do enough research and then come out with some conclusions that all Energy Pros can use to recommend clean energy systems.
At a Minnesota Energy Conference I met a wind and PV solar installer. He sells and installs both Southwest wind systems and Sunpower PV(one of the highest efficiencies in the industry) systems. He monitored both a 2.4 kW wind turbine and a 4.14 kW PV array for 16 months. Wind was at 4200 kWh and the PV at 11,000 kWh. The tower was 33ft high on flat mostly unobstructed terrain. No shading of PV however the ground mount array was automatically articulated from sunrise to sunset and the north to south angle was adjusted twice per year. This is a guess,but articulation could double the yearly output of PV. This was a south central Minnesota Location with an average wind speed of 11.5 to 14 mph depending on the exact location of the turbine.  The cost of the wind system installed was $19,500 and for the PV installed was $30,000 to $40,000. They sell a 10kw Ventura turbine that could output 17,000kwh/yr for $60,000 to $65,000.


That's a great example.  Most people would assume that wind would kick solar's butt in MN.  Even if you halved the size of the PV array (and then had the installed cost under the wind cost) it would still produce more kWh than the wind!  


Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.  Home Energy Pros is sponsored by the Better Buildings Residential Network.

Latest Activity

Colin Genge posted events
1 hour ago
Adrienne DeAngelo posted an event

GreenPoint Rated CORE Training at Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel

October 15, 2015 to October 17, 2015
Increase your certifications or get to know the GreenPoint Rated system so that you can work more…See More
2 hours ago
Colin Genge replied to John Carton's discussion Smoke Puffer stick
"Retrotec Smoke Puffer is available for pickup from Energy Federation. They will not ship them due…"
2 hours ago
Colin Genge updated an event

Retrotec is exhibiting at the ACI National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show at Austin Hilton

April 4, 2016 at 8am to April 7, 2016 at 5pm
The 2016 ACI National Home Performance Conference and Trade Show is coming to Austin, TX April…See More
2 hours ago
Colin Genge updated an event

Retrotec is exhibiting at the NEBB Annual Conference at Hyatt Regency Albuquerque

April 14, 2016 at 8am to April 16, 2016 at 5pm
Save the dates for the 2016 NEBB Annual Conference.See More
2 hours ago
Colin Genge updated an event

Retrotec is exhibiting at the CxEnergy 2016 Conference at Hilton Anatole

April 11, 2016 at 8am to April 13, 2016 at 5pm
Top Reasons to Participate in CxEnergy 2016 Premier Conference & Exposition for Building…See More
2 hours ago
Colin Genge updated an event

Retrotec is exhibiting at the ABAA-Air Barrier Association of America Conference & Trade Show at Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

March 22, 2016 at 8am to March 24, 2016 at 5pm
The Air Barrier Association of America is hosting its fifth annual conference and trade show in…See More
2 hours ago
Colin Genge updated an event

Retrotec is exhibiting at the Midwest Residential Energy Conference at Hyatt Regency Lexington

April 4, 2016 at 8am to April 6, 2016 at 5pm
The Midwest Residential Energy Conference promotes energy efficient home performance through the…See More
2 hours ago

© 2015   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service