Fundamental Drawbacks of Solar and Wind Energy

Fundamental Drawbacks of Solar and Wind Energy

The excitement to embrace renewable sources of energy, particularly solar and wind energy, is inspired by a few developments. The rising cost of hydroelectricity, for example, has compelled people to consider solar power as an alternative. On the other hand, environmentalists and conservationists have intensified their campaigns against hydroelectricity and fossil energy sources on claims of pollution and environmental unsustainability. They are now endorsing specific renewable sources of energy, which have become a trending topic of interest. As a result, people are embracing solar and wind energy. Whereas this adoption is commendable, people are unaware that unreliability, cost, and geographical limitations are major drawbacks, making both sources of energy fail to meet the increasing global demand for energy.

The intermittent and weather-reliant characteristics of wind and solar energy make them less reliable for uninterrupted energy supply. While solar energy is available mostly during the day, this resource vanishes during the night. Similarly, wind turbines may not necessarily run throughout since wind can change direction and intensity. According to Zsiborács et al. (2019), the intermittent nature of Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) sources poses a challenge to operators aiming to integrate solar and wind energy into the existing power grid. Although solar and wind energy resources are widespread globally, they pose reliability concerns when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing.

Solar and wind energy cannot fully meet energy needs due to cost limitations. According to Shahzad (2016), solar panels are relatively expensive to acquire. One small solar panel is inadequate to generate sufficient energy enough to run a household or a factory. The installation and maintenance costs are high as well (Shahzad, 2016). Cost limitation also affects the adoption of wind power. Shahzad (2016) explains that wind power generation requires a huge initial investment compared to fossil-fuelled generators. For an average homeowner, wind and solar energy are unaffordable. At an industrial scale, the cost of installation and maintenance of these sources of energy is economically unsound. Therefore, the cost factor is a major shortcoming to satisfying the high demand for energy.

While some localities are best-suited for renewable energy technologies, others experience geographical limitations that justify the use of non-renewable alternatives. Different countries and regions have varying topographies and climates that may either hinder or facilitate renewable energy development. According to Guaita-Pradas, Marques-Perez, Gallego, and Segura (2019), site screening is paramount before installing solar and wind generation systems since only a limited number of locations are suitable. For example, the availability of large open spaces aids the installation of solar panels and wind turbines, while a townhome covered in skyscraper shade is unsuitable for either technology. Overall, individuals interested in VRE sources may be forced to use non-renewable energy due to geographical barriers.

Solar and wind energy cannot meet the high demand for energy due to reliability, affordability, and location deterrents. Sunlight and wind resources are dependent on the prevailing weather; therefore, energy generated from them is unreliable. The cost of installing and maintaining solar panels and wind turbines is high such that only a few people or households are likely to afford. Geographical barriers at times necessitate the use of non-renewable sources of energy due to the unsuitability of some locations with regard to topography and climate. These limitations fortify the assertion that solar and wind energy are inadequate to address people’s growing needs for energy.


Guaita-Pradas, I., Marques-Perez, I., Gallego, A., & Segura, B. (2019). Analyzing territory for the sustainable development of solar photovoltaic power using GIS databases. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 191(12), 1-17. doi:10.1007/s10661-019-7871-8

Shahzad, U. (2016). A quantitative comparison of wind and solar energy. Durreesamin Journal, 2(1), 1-7.

Zsiborács, H., Baranyai, N. H., Vincze, A., Zentkó, L., Birkner, Z., Máté, K., & Pintér, G. (2019). Intermittent renewable energy sources: The role of energy storage in the European power system of 2040. Electronics, 8(7), 1-18. doi:10.3390/electronics8070729

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