The wind and solar sectors have greatly become allies on the national stage, profiting from many clean-energy policies and sharing big-picture targets. As yet, wind and solar corporations infrequently found themselves in direct and fierce competition with each other.

by Lincoln Electric Systems, Lincoln Nebraska
Photo by American Public Power Association / Unsplash

However, the outlook is transforming when solar by degrees catches up to wind on expense as well as the grid penetration of renewable surges. What was once a brittle alliance between the two quickest growing renewable technologies could plunge into a severe rivalry?

While many project developers are recently charged with both sectors, involving NextEra Energy Resources, Invenergy, and EDF, the nation’s thriving foundation of wind manufacturers could face its baptism of fire in the foreseeable future.

The ITC's inherent advantage

Technically, the wind is, in a manner of speaking, solar’s older sibling. The U.S. holds almost 100 gigawatts of equipped wind capacity today, compared to about 67 gigawatts of solar. With their fundamentally higher capacity factors, wind farms produced four times more power for the U.S. grid last year than utility-scale solar plants, for a combined wind-solar share of 8.2 percent, according to government figures. (Distributed PV systems further add to solar’s contribution.)

The wind would undoubtedly lose its edge at some point. The solar market now frequently tops wind every year. The price of solar energy is taking a dip more swiftly and happens to have more runway for extra reduction. Solar’s intrinsic generation pattern is valuable in many markets, distributing power throughout peak-demand hours, whereas the wind usually blows strongest at night.

And after that, there’s the matter of the solar ITC

In 2015, wind secured a historic multi-year extension to its main federal subsidy, and likewise solar. The extensions offer both industries the lengthiest interval of policy clarity they’ve ever had, firing up a tidal wave of installations which is set to crest over the next few years.

Even back in 2015, nevertheless, solar held a better deal in Washington, D.C and no mistake!

While the wind production tax credit (PTC) started phasing down for recent projects almost at once, solar developers have to qualify projects for the full ITC until the end of 2019.