Which renewable resource should we power our homes with in New England – Sunshine or Wind? ReVision Energy says sunshine wins, hands down! Here are the top 3 advantages of going solar for your home.

1) New England has a Limited Wind Resource

us-wind-map-30-meters

Click to enlarge: This map compiles wind speed averages at 30 meters. The most feasible regions are the Great Plains and pockets of the Southwest.

Unlike solar, wind power generation works poorly at a smaller scale, and homeowners in many parts of the country simply will not see desired results with a wind turbine installation.

Wind turbines need strong wind. Not just any wind, but the nicely flowing, smooth kind. This sort of wind cannot be found at 30 feet, and usually won’t be found at 60 feet. More often than not it takes 100 feet of tower to reach the desirable wind flow. Even at that height, most New England wind is only just strong enough to turn the turbine blades.

So, New England is not a practical place for residential wind turbines. There is some potential on the coastline, but it is important to first gather wind speed data at a location over a long period of time to accurately forecast what kind of power can be generated.

On the off-chance your property is sufficiently windy, consider also that the installed price of a 6 kW wind turbine on a good height tower could be as much as $50,000 (not counting maintenance). At the time of this writing, half that amount will buy you about 8 kW of installed solar panels.

2) New England has Tons of Sun

Enjoy the Sun in New England - Solar Power works year roundWe don’t get a lot of wind, but New England receives plentiful sunshine. Our long summer days may not last year-round, but winter here is bright, and solar panels actually perform more efficiently in the cold.

New England is generally as sunny and clear as many parts of the Southeast. Also, unlike wind, if your site is initially too shady, you can add to your solar resource just by doing some targeted tree removal!

The fact that the sun doesn’t shine all day long is mitigated by rollover meter credits. Also, new battery storage technology is better enabling the self-consumption of solar power.

3) Solar Technology is Far More Reliable

Things with moving parts will break, and solar panels have no moving parts. Beyond that simple fact, they are warrantied for 25 years, and a system has an operating life of about 40 years.

As for turbines, even the good ones break from time to time, and none will run for 20 years without the need to replace at least some parts. It should expected that a wind turbine will break, the only questions are, “When?” and “How often?” 

The Choice is Clear

passive solar house

This solar electric system will displace roughly 250,000 lbs of C02 over its expected 40-year lifespan! It’s hard to beat the advantages of solar: It immediately starts saving you money, has no moving parts, and requires no maintenance. They’re warrantied for 25 years, and expected to last as much as twice that time.

In some cases, like coastal locations where wind is stronger, hybrid systems with solar-electric arrays and wind turbines, feeding battery storage, can provide very reliable electricity – more reliable than the utility company in many cases.

But in Maine’s sun-rich, wind-poor conditions, it is simply more advantageous to pool your investment into a larger solar array.

The bottom line? Dollar for dollar, a solar system will outperform a wind system in nearly all real-world, residential applications.

Wind vs. Solar: The Bigger Picture

Wind and solar energy are both powerful renewable resources in much of the US, and around the world. March of 2017 saw over 10% of total US electricity generation come from wind and solar combined, and that number will continue to rise.

The costs of utility-scale solar and wind projects have fallen 85% and 65%, respectively, over the last 7 years, and both are now cheaper than any form of fossil fuel power.

Solar and wind power work together great on a large scale because of their complementary characteristics. Sunshine is a powerful and virtually ubiquitous resource in the daytime, and where wind is abundant, power can be generated for the grid around the clock.

As utility-scale projects continue to grow dramatically, we can retire more and more dirty energy plants. What can you do to speed that up? Install a solar power plant on your roof, and get the biggest bang for your buck!