Niall McMahon

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Solar Vs. Wind Update


In the few months since Discon #7: Can Medium Wind Compete With Solar PV?, I’ve had some useful feedback and learned more about the state of the art. It turns out that I was conservative with the cost of solar installed. It’s closer to 1.50 euro per watt installed at small scales – I had assumed almost twice this. The average insolation in Dublin is something close to 2.75 kWh m-2 day-1.

So with a little re-calculation, three graphs spanning Europe.

The first is the new solar vs. wind graph approximating current conditions. The second is where the insolation is very low, i.e. somewhere such as Spitsbergen with an average of around 1.6 kWh m-2 day-1. The third is where the insolation is very high, i.e. somewhere such as Istanbul with an average of around 4.2 kWh m-2 day-1.

As previously, above the line is where solar wins and below is where wind wins.

The usual cautions apply, and there are caveats, but the graphs capture the relationship between the important physical quantities. There is more discussion in the original article.


Solar vs. wind approximating the situation in Dublin, Amsterdam and Berlin.


Solar vs. wind in Spitsbergen – approximately.


Solar vs. wind in Istanbul – approximately.

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