Science largely populated areas.In our local area, however,

Science Fair Research Paper on Wind /Solar PowerAccording to my research, wind turbines are more efficient than solar panels.  Information in my research states that, one wind turbine can generate the same amount of electricity as about 48,704 solar panels.1  In some cases, wind turbines are not the best option, because they can take up a lot of space, can hurt wildlife and should not be near largely populated areas.In our local area, however, solar may be more efficient than wind because solar power is more consistently available than wind.  Also they may be more realistic since they can be installed on homes, buildings, schools, etc.  Wind and solar power have grown quickly in the last 10 years, however there are still questions about cost effectiveness of green energy.   In order to compete with fossil fuels, solar and wind power will need to develop more cost efficient ways to store generated energy.   Additionally, costs for production/maintenance of wind turbines and solar panels will need to continue to go down or consumers will not be able to afford them.  Solar and wind power produce energy in different ways, but which one represents the best value for the money?  In a recent experiment by Inland Power and Light (IPL), it was determined that solar is more efficient.  IPL compared a 35 foot wind turbine with a similarly capable solar array that could generate the same amount of electricity under ideal conditions.  Both the wind turbine and the solar arrays cost the same amount as well, approximately $22,000.2  The solar arrays did better in the experiment because of the different wind speeds could stop the propeller from turning.           Solar energy means energy from the sun and it is used more and more frequently as a clean reusable and free source of energy in places like homes, offices, schools, and buildings.          Solar energy works by converting the sun’s energy into energy we can use in three main ways:Photovoltaic Processes: Photovoltaic processes happen when the PV device takes the sunlight and makes it into electricity. These devices are still in development and have issues collecting sunlight when it’s cloudy or low sunlight.Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC): SHC is thermal energy that is created by the sun and switched into energy that is used to heat and or cool devices.Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): Concentrating Solar Power is when mirrors are used to concentrate the energy from the sun to make steam engines and turbines run to generate and store electricity. 3            Solar panels are the most common types of PV solar energy. Made up of large amounts of solar cells, the semiconductors inside can collect not just sunlight but other types of light as well to create the energy that makes electricity. However there is a drawback to these collectors, no light equals no electricity which is why many are created now so that they can be moved to follow the light.  Solar panels are used in many applications, from powering the International Space Station to everyday homes.  Some of the many advantages of using solar power are: 1. It is a renewable and sustainable energy source. It is completely free.  2. You can get power to people living in remote locations where standard power lines can reach. 3. No pollutants are created by solar energy allowing solar power to be called Clean Energy.  4. Any Surplus electricity created and not used can be sold back to the power companies. 5. By using solar, you can reduce your electric bills. 6. Solar panels are low maintenance and only need to be cleaned a few times a year. 7. Many jobs are created by this new type of energy.4     Just as there are many advantages to having and using solar energy, there are also drawbacks which include: 1. The cost of setting up a solar array and the required batteries needed to store the electricity is very expensive.  2. Solar energy can only be collected during the day, and it is greatly reduced during cloudy or rainy days. In the end there are many more benefits to using solar energy than there are drawbacks which makes it such a good source of alternative energy, energy created by wind turbines can be just as important.5 Wind Turbines:           What is a wind turbine? Wind Turbines are the modern day windmills used to generate electricity by harnessing the wind.  They operate by using the wind to create kinetic energy, the wind pushes the blades and spins a motor that converts the kinetic energy to electricity.  Wind turbines can be found in large open areas called “wind farms” where hundreds of these large structures can catch the wind.  They can also be found on sea coastal areas or set up offshore to capture the near constant sea breezes.  There are many important components that make wind turbines work:Rotor: made up of large blades to capture the wind.Pitch Drive: Used to rotate the blades.Nacelle: The housing unit that the blades are attached to.Brake: Used to slow the rotor down.Generator: Used to convert the kinetic energy into electricity.Tower: Elevates the rotor to the height needed to catch the wind.6             Using these many parts, wind turbines are able to turn the wind into electricity using methods such as these: Towers are built are built at a height to where the rotors can catch the wind at a more constant rate, and the large blades catch the wind forcing them to move.  As the rotor starts to spin, the gearbox starts to move at the same rate and then turns the rotations to a higher more controlled speed through a generator that spins a magnet around a coil of metal wire creating electricity. The electricity then travels from the generator to the battery for use or storage.     There are two main types of wind turbines used mainly; the Horizontal axis wind turbine and the Vertical axis wind turbine. The horizontal axis wind turbine is seen mostly in the large wind farms where the rotor spins with the wind and the rotational energy gets converted to electricity through a generator.  The vertical axis wind turbine is less common but does not have to face into the wind like the horizontal axis turbine. The rotor is vertical and the gearbox and generator are at the bottom of the tower.  Both types of wind turbines are efficient in creating clean renewable and sustainable energy, they are environmentally friendly because they create zero greenhouse gases and much like solar, they can be used in remote places with little maintenance. 7  But just like solar, wind turbines also have a few disadvantages; it is not a constant energy source and they must be built in places that can capture enough wind. The cost to build the wind turbines is much higher as well. A few other disadvantages are also found with wind turbines such as threats to birds and bats that fly into them, and the fact that they can be ugly to look at and really noisy.  As technology expands we are seeing more and more wind turbines being scaled down and used in many different ways in more urban areas to power road signs, billboards, and in some cases whole communities.8      My research was done to compare which of the two; solar vs. wind power, would be more efficient in our area.  Because I live farther away from the coast, solar was the clear winner. But as I conducted my research closer to the beach, I found that there was a consistent wind/solar ratio. I can see these two different forms of renewable energy being able to work hand in hand; where you have a cloudy day you may have wind, vs. a sunny but calm day.  The valuable lesson that I have learned from my research is that it is a good thing to have the choice between two very clean, renewable energy sources to take the strain and reliance off of fossil fuels. And that with time and technology, these two very different but at the same time similar sources of electricity will be put more and more into everyday use.  1 2 more-efficient3 4