Wind or Solar Systems

People in rural pumping situations face the question of whether to “go solar” or use the wind. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. Customers need to consider which system will give the best results at the most economical long term cost, and what is the anticipated lifespan of each system. What may be a short term advantage may well turn out to be a long term disadvantage.

WINDMILL
Features Benefits
Proven design experience Reliability- 150 years of experience
Durability- with minimal maintenance, a life of 50 or 60 years is quite normal
Mechanical simplicity Simple technology
Low maintenance costs
Low flow situations Can be used on low flow bores
Non- corrosive pumping equipment Stainless or Polypropylene column gives long life in highly reactive water
Environmentally friendly No fuel costs and no need to continually refuel- wind is free
Pumps water whenever the wind blows- night or day. The right combination will average 10 hours pumping per day
Security Unlikely to be stolen or damaged by vandals
A well maintained windmill will withstand all but cyclonic winds
Appropriate volume Windmill and pump are matched to the water supply and lift
SOLAR
Ground based All work at ground level
Modern Technology Modern high technology- which can fail in an instant
minimal servicing
Uses natural solar energy Solar array and pump is matched to the water supply and lift
Simple control systems Pump can be turned on or off manually or automatically
Appropriate volume Solar and pump system can be matched to a wide range of water supply and heads
Electrical Safety Solar arrays can produce lethal voltages

However, people considering a solar system should bear in mind that to shift the same amount of water over the same height, a solar system will usually cost considerably more than a windmill, and that the lifespan of a solar system is much less than that of a well maintained windmill, some suggest in the order of a third of the lifespan. At that stage the ENTIRE solar system will have to be replaced. At the end of its 50 or 60 years lifespan, a windmill can normally be reconditioned and returned to service.

Working on windmills necessarily involves working at heights, with consequent risks. AWCA Q contractors have managed to greatly minimise these risks. Most injuires have been attributed to inexperience. While solar systems avoid the risks of working at height, the electric voltages involved in solar systems, even though direct current from the solar array, the voltages involved can also cause serious injuries or death.