The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Wind/Hydroelectric is Superior to Solar

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Debate Round Forfeited
byaka2013 has forfeited round #4.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2017 Category: Science
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 317 times Debate No: 102032
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
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Round 1 acceptance only

(this was a continuation of a previously forfieted debate)


I accept. This is a continuation of a previous debate [As previously stated by Pro] and will be completed as promised. I also confer the conditions in the previous argument.
Debate Round No. 1


I apologize for the lack of terms. I was in a rush. Anyway, here goes:

Wind first-
According to wind energy costs way less. And it works whenever there's wind (almost always) compared with solar, working only during a clear day (not night). They generate significantly more electricity than solar panels, which may not fit to every roof. Wind is a more efficient power source than solar. Compared to solar panels, wind turbines release less CO2 to the atmosphere, consume less energy, and produce more energy overall. In fact, one wind turbine can generate the same amount of electricity per kWh as about 48,704 solar panels.

Turbines can additionally be built offshore, and is far less of a potent pollutant. claims hydropower is the least expensive alternative energy source in the US. Again, hydroelectricity has a more constant power supply and can function throughout a whole day. There are several other uses for hydropower such as recreation resource reservoirs.

Solar is not quite as reliable and is too expensive and too precise in necessary attributes.


First off I would like to thank my opponent for prompting this debate. Its not often topics of science and technology are put up for discussion. In saying this, I am assuming the stance that solar power is both more viable and productive than wind and hydroelectric energy synthesis.

It is readily apparent that all three candidates have some form of physical limitation or another, be it sunlight for solar cells, topography and terrain for turbines, and the presence of a viable water source for hydroelectric. The easiest case that I can make thus far without statistical analysis and empirical evidence is simply that the solar resource is available on a much larger scale than either options put forth by Pro. With the exception of polar latitudes [Extended periods of darkness], nearly every corner of the globe is bathed in electromagnetic waves, which we see as visible light. However, I think it is important to point out that my argument will not simply consist of terrestrial elements [We can only do so much here], but also that of orbital solar relays. The majority of the solar industries losses come from a lack of efficiency. This comes in the form of many natural phenomenon and technological limits. For instance:
- 17% of solar energy is reflected by atmospheric conditions
- 8% is scattered by molecules
- 6% is reflected off the surface
This combined effect is known technically as albedo. Of the remaining 69%:
- 19% is absorbed by dust
- 4% is absorbed by clouds
This means roughly 47% of the total available power reaches Earth, which translates into 1 part per 2.3 billion of the sun's output. You may be somewhat confused at the moment, because it sounds like I am making a case against myself. Perhaps, but my main point is to illustrate the potential of solar power in space. The potential is literally billions of times higher than current Earth based installations. The technology is within our reach and while the costs may be significant, they are minuscule to other spending conducted by the federal government.

The case above will be expanded upon later in the argument. My purpose now is to illustrate that the solar energy we have available now already surpasses the potential of both wind and hydroelectric sources.

Wind energy has already had a variety of studies conducted that show, on a large scale, turbines are inefficient, costly, and endanger wildlife [1]. Turbines have enough force applied to the blades to generate sufficient energy gains about 17% of the time on average. A farm rated to produce 468 megawatts will on average only produce 174 megawatts. Consequently most wind farms have backup generators that run on fossil fuels to subsidize the energy losses from the turbines themselves. This essentially defeats the purpose of a wind farm: clean energy. Whats more, turbines are largely dependent on topography. The federal government and corporations routinely survey areas based on contours and elevation, scoping out optimal sites for wind farms. These sites are more often in remote locations, farther away from major settlements. Additionally, each year wind farms are responsible for 1.4 million fatalities among native bird and bat populations, often resulting in hefty fines. Its easy to see wind has some serious drawbacks.

As for hydroelectric, here are its downfalls. Hydroelectric plants typically consist of dams, which can heavily damage ecosystems. The effects that account for this consequence include physical and biological factors, ranging from water level to fish populations. They are also largely dependent on viable water sources, like larger rivers, to make them cost effective. These sources are often habitats, and effecting water velocity, composition, and direction can often be fatal. And, similarly to turbine systems, they are dependent on topography. There are limited locations that they can be applied to, and, again, those are liable to effect environmental conditions. Not only this, but in the case of droughts and flooding, they can either suffer heavy damage, or be rendered inert. And as briefly alluded to in the beginning of this segment, they are hugely expensive, environmentally damaging, and limited [2].

As for solar power, it is an abundant, unlimited, and sustainable resource. Solar energy is available to us as long as the sun is alive, and with an estimated 6.5 billion years left in its lifespan according to NASA, its not going anywhere soon. But my overall point is the fact that solar energy has potential beyond imagination. The surface of the Earth alone receives 120k terawatts of radiation, which at the moment is 20k times more than is needed to power the entirety of human civilization. Now, I would have the audience keep in mind, this massive amount of energy is 1 in 2.3 billion, and while it is not feasible to harvest every bit of EM radiation that graces the surface, space surpasses these limitations. It multiplies the energy available tenfold with less area required [3].

Overall Points;
[1] Turbines are inefficient, costly, and endanger wildlife
[2] While hydroelectric power provides a reliable and sustainable resource, it cannot surpass the potential of the sun
[3] Solar is a near unlimited, clean, environmentally sound, and unimaginably vast resource

Simply put, the burden of proof is on Pro. Unless you can prove that turbines purposed for hydroelectric and wind power can surpass the near infinite potential of the sun that dwarfs anything we have in terrestrial limits, he cannot win this debate.

Debate Round No. 2


Short rebuttals: Solar energy only works during the day, whereas wind/hydro works regardless of time. This add up and is more efficient. The potential energy is not the same as the actual. These may damage ecosystems but not much. The adjustment to the roof slope, etc is needed for solar but for none else.

The word superior considers many factors, like cost, time, and accessibility.

I have already proven how it is more cost effective in my first argument. It is true that solar power might last a billion years longer, but again, consider what happens during the night. Accessibility means where systems could be installed and how easily they could be obtained. Wind works on land and at sea, and hydroelectric takes up no land space. But 90% of solar panels are installed on roofs.


Thank you, to Pro, for readying his response quickly.

My rebuttal will be fairly short and concise as well.

I would like to point out that Pro's sited 'facts' on the supposed superiority of wind energy to solar revolves around the notion that the necessary equipment is operating at peak efficiency - which is often not the case. Sure, they can be placed wherever there is wind, but there needs to be enough and the topography needs to correspond to meet the threshold for net gains on power production. This limits the areas large scale [The only facilities rated for national power production] can be constructed upon. Pro has done nothing to refute the statistic showing that most of the time turbines are not operating at the needed rating, nor the fact that many plants use fossil fuel generators to subsidize losses in energy production, which, again, defeats the whole purpose of a wind harnessing installation - Clean power. He goes on to address my arguments on environmental impacts, assessing these damages as minimal. Hardly. Most of the bird watching and scientific community would disagree, and one only needs to consider the three gorges dam and others like it to take into account the massive loss of life that have occurred on both a animal and human level. These impacts are certainly anything but small. However, if one takes the prospect of solar panels into consideration, most if not all of these impacts are eliminated.

Pro continues on to state 'The potential energy is not the same as the actual'. Hmm. I see what he is saying, but only in terms of kinetic vs potential. My point in using the phrase 'potential' was in the possibility of humanity harnessing the astronomical levels of energy the sun puts out, not the potential of the energy itself. Its certainly there, we just need to start using it. So when such a statement as his is made, my simple response is that the energy the sun puts out is factual, not a possibility, and it dwarfs anything we have here on Earth. He also states that solar requires adjustments, daylight, and lacks accessibility. I will concede solar cells are more technical than their counterparts, but that has done nothing to limit their application. As to the point about daylight. Considering we can now wirelessly transmit electricity, I propose we put solar installations into orbit around the sun. They can be autonomously serviced, and exceed any environmental constraints [weather] as well as generate unlimited amounts of power. The cost may be great to initiate such a leap, but the risk to reward ratio is heavily in favor of the return value.

'Wind works on land and at sea, and hydroelectric takes up no land space'. I think this error pretty much speaks for itself. I encourage you to look up how much acreage a wind farm occupies.

'But 90% of solar panels are installed on roofs'. I think this is something of a contradiction to your previous statement, that being your allegation that turbines and dams take up less space than solar cells. Last I checked I couldn't just plaster a wind farm on top of an existing suburban or urban area, but you can with solar panels. This essentially proves that solar panels can be applied to already developed areas instead of consuming new spaces.

Again, thank you for a timely response. Eagerly awaiting another post.
Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by RR-MKIV 9 months ago
Posting my argument tomorrow.
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