Question: Which in your opinion is a better way of making renewable energy wind, solar or hydro?

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  1. hi cnixon,

    wow that’s an interesting one… because they all have their pros and cons. But… in a way, all energy comes from the sun in one way or another: for hydro, the sun is needed to get the water to higher ground, so it can flow down to generate energy. For energy that comes from wind, the sun causes differences in temperature (and pressure) which helps to create wind.

    So, it probably comes down to the efficiency at which we can extract the energy from the technology. In Australia, we have so much sunlight in the middle of the country, I’m thinking that this might be the winner. 🙂


  2. Hi cnixon,

    I’d have to go for solar. Hydro has other impacts in terms of building huge dams (just look at Tasmania). Wind power is good for small scale applications, but solar can produce much larger amounts of energy.

    In terms of what we should be doing though, investment in all forms of renewable energy is required if we’re going to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.


  3. Hi cnixon,

    1. I disagree with David that (direct) solar has clear advantages over wind.

    2. I agree, however, that all renewable energy technologies have their pros and cons, and, importantly, that different technologies will form different parts of the jigsaw in different countries.

    For example, the government of Northern Ireland has set a target of 40% of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020 (it was 10% as of last year). If you’ve seem how rainy it is on the Emerald Isle, you’d know that there is no way Northern Ireland is going to be meeting its target using direct solar power!

    3. Biomass is probably one of the ‘big 3’: solar, wind and biomass, with hydro being “a bit yesterday”.

    4. It’s important to remember that electricity for houses and factories is only ONE kind of “energy” that people need. People also use “energy” for heating/cooling and for transport.

    5. How expensive an electricity/energy source makes a big difference to how much that source will be used. And there are no simple answers to what is cheap or not: firstly, technology is getting better very fast; secondly, it’s hard to work out how much electricity “really costs”.

    This graph shows the range of costs for each kind of renewable energy:

    2011-06-20 - Renewable energy costs - 1

    The cheaper the better, of course. The different lines within each coloured bar are the different types of solar, wind, etc, listed here:

    It’s complicated, so never believe anyone who is too sure that one kind of renewable energy is cheaper than another!