Solar trounces wind

Anyone who has watched a Washoe Zephyr take down a tractor-trailer on local freeways or split a tree in their backyard would say it’s powerful stuff. However, solar is trouncing wind when it comes to energy generated by city of Reno renewable energy installations.

The city has installed 11 solar and wind systems since 2008 and is keeping track of its data on the “Green Energy Dashboard” at The site shows that solar power is producing 99 percent of the energy generated from the city’s wind and solar installations, with wind producing less than 1 percent. However, the city also installed more solar (260 kW) than wind (37.2 kW). Even so, when looking at the past few months of data, solar is shown to be a consistent and more powerful generator—producing significant amounts of energy nearly every day, while wind often only produces a few days per month.

“Wind is a lot more site-specific than solar,” says city environmental services administrator Jason Geddes. “You really have to know everything about your site, your turbine, if there’s any interference with it. Whereas solar, as long as the sun is hitting it, you’re in good shape.”

As residents interested in renewable energy installations research their options, comparison data such as this may prove useful. However, whether solar will outperform wind depends on the site.

A wind resource map will be out from the city by the end of February. Geddes says it will show wind speed at various heights in Reno. He recommends homeowners and businesses use it with NV Energy’s WindGenerations calculator to get a more accurate idea of their return on investment compared to solar.

“Although we think we’ve got good wind, it’s really not that great, and it’s very site-specific, so do your homework,” says Geddes.