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Hydro vs. Wind vs. Solar Power?

Sep 05, 2017

Advantages


Hydropower:

Lowest cost per watt hour

Usually a predictable year round power output

Often does not require a large battery bank

System is quiet and often can be made unobtrusive

Typically low maintainance


Windpower:

Low cost per watt hour in a good location

Smaller systems can be low maintainance

Predictable power output in some locations


Solar power:

Can be used almost anywhere

Extermely low maintainance

Very long system lifespans

Can be operated unmonitored for extended periods of time

Predictable power output in most locations

Simple installation

Silent , unobtrusive operation


Disadvantages


Hydropower:

Not suitable in many locations due to lack of resource

Often requires substantial modification of water resource (except for in-stream type generators)

Initial installation cost can be high if damming or dirtwork is required

In colder climates, freezing of pipes, etc can be a problem

Moving parts will eventually wear out


Windpower:

Not suitable in many locations due to lack of resource

Towering can be expensive for larger units, and may require heavy equipment to erect.

Some people object to the tower aesthetically

Birds of prey run into tower and guy wires (similar to but smaller than utility installations in this respect)

Power output can be sporadic in some areas, nescesitates the use of a large battery bank and / or altrenate power source

Many people report that considerable noise is generated in high winds

Even routine, minor maintainance on a windmill can be difficult on the top of a tower. Systems to reduce / eliminate this problem typically add to the cost and complexity of the system.

Moving parts will eventually wear out


Solar power:

High initial cost for solar panels

Power output can be variable in some areas, nescesitates the use of a large battery bank and / or altrenate power source

Requires good solar exposure (not practical in shaded areas, etc.)