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Difference Between Hydropower and Solar Power

Main Difference

The main difference between Hydropower and Solar Power is that Hydropower is a type of power that uses water to generate energy, whereas Solar Power uses sunlight to generate energy.

Hydropower vs. Solar Power

Hydropower is a kind of power that is generated from moving water. On the flip side, solar power is the type of power that is generated from the energy of sunlight. For the production of hydropower, turbines are used that converts the kinetic energy of moving water into hydropower. Solar power is obtained by using the solar plates; these solar plates capture the energy from sunlight and convert it into solar power.

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So, hydropower is considered a more reliable source of energy because it shows a stable supply of power. On the other hand, solar power is an intermittent source of energy with interrupted periods of energy supply, for example, in cloudy days and at night, etc. Moreover, hydropower is known as a cheap source of energy worldwide. It accounts for a low price per watt. On the other side, solar power is expensive as compared to hydropower because it also demands a backup source in case of interrupted periods of energy supply.

Hydropower causes a great environmental impact as compared to solar power. The construction of dams on rivers and streams for the generation of hydropower disturbs the animal, fish, and plant habitats. On the flip side, solar power has a little environmental impact. It increases the heat in the area of solar plant systems.

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Hydropower cannot be used as an energy source for small portable devices because it requires turbines and water for the generation of energy. On the other hand, solar power can be used as an energy source for small devices like a flashlight, watch, or calculator, etc. because it uses photovoltaic panels to produce energy through sunlight, and these panels can easily be installed in small portable devices.

Hydropower has many alternative resources, as well. For example, water facilities in hydropower plants are an excellent source for boating, swimming, and fishing, etc. It also provides agricultural facilities in the neighboring areas. On the other side, solar power does not have such alternative facilities.

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Comparison Chart

HydropowerSolar Power
A type of energy resource that is obtained from moving water is known as hydropower.A type of energy resource that is obtained from the sunlight is known as solar power.
Production
During the production of hydropower, turbines are used that converts the kinetic energy of moving water into hydropower.Solar power is obtained by using the solar plates that capture the energy from sunlight and convert it into solar power.
Reliability
Hydropower is considered a more reliable source of energy because it shows a stable supply of power.Solar power is an intermittent source of energy with interrupted periods of energy supply during cloudy days and at night etc.
Cost
Hydropower is known as a cheap source of energy worldwide.It is expensive as compared to hydropower.
Environmental Impact
Hydropower causes a great environmental impact because the construction of dams for the generation of hydropower disturbs the animal, fish, and plant habitats.Solar power has a little environmental impact as it increases the heat in the area of solar plant systems.
Use in Small Portable Devices
It cannot be used as an energy source for small portable devices.Solar power can be used as an energy source for small devices like a flashlight, watch or calculator, etc.
Power Output
It has a predictable power output per year.In maximum areas, it also has predictable power output per year.
Use of Battery Bank
It does not need a large battery bank.Solar power requires the use of a large battery bank due to variable power output in different areas.
Suitability
It is not suitable in many areas due to the unavailability of resources.Solar power is suitable in almost every location.
Life Span
In the hydropower system, moving parts may eventually wear out.The solar power system has a long life span.
Effect of Climate
Climate does not disturb the generation of hydropower.Changes in a climate like cloudy days etc. disturb the power output in solar power.
Pollution
Hydropower does not involve the emission of harmful gasses in the environment.The installation of solar power may involve the emission of many greenhouse gasses that causes pollution.
Alternative Uses
Hydropower has many alternative uses like water facilities in hydropower plants used for boating, swimming, and fishing, etc.Solar power does not have such alternative facilities.

What is Hydropower?

The word ‘Hydro’ stands for water. So, here, the word hydropower means the energy that is obtained from water. Hydropower is considered as the least expensive and common source of energy in the whole world. It is used as a source of energy in almost all the countries of the world and shows the lowest cost per watt per hour.

Hydropower is an ancient energy source that has been using for centuries. It is generated by using the energy of moving water. Turbines are installed in the way of moving water that converts the kinetic energy of the water into electricity. This electricity is then used to run different works.

Hydropower stations required a high initial cost as it requires a large area for the construction of dams. But, once installed, it demands the lowest cost per watt per hour. A typical hydropower system has three parts, i.e., a dam to control water, an electric plant to produce electricity, and a reservoir to regulate the energy extraction.

The amount of electricity produced can be calculated through the volume of water moving through the system and how far the water drops. Hydropower has many alternative resources, as well. For example, water facilities in hydropower plants are an excellent source for boating, swimming, and fishing, etc. It also provides agricultural facilities in the neighboring areas.

Advantages

  • It is a renewable resource of energy that can be renewed by rain or snowfall etc.
  • It has the lowest cost per watt per hour.
  • It demands low maintenance and running costs.
  • This system has a long life span.
  • Hydropower generators can easily be switch on and off according to the demand.
  • It does not require a large battery bank.

Disadvantages

  • It is not suitable in many areas due to the unavailability of resources.
  • It has a high installation cost.
  • It may cause freezing of water in pipes in colder climates.
  • It requires modification of water resources.
  • Moving parts may wear out with time.

What is Solar Power?

The word ‘Solar’ means ‘sun. So, solar power is the source of energy that is obtained from sunlight. It is an everlasting source of energy because the sun is the biggest source of energy. This type of energy can be obtained by using solar cells that are known as photovoltaic cells. This current is then converted from a DC into AC with the help of an inverter.

Solar power can also be used as an energy source for small devices like a flashlight, watch, or calculator, etc. because it uses photovoltaic panels to produce energy through sunlight, and these panels can easily be installed in small portable devices. Solar power does not have a constant delivery of energy. The conditions that disturb the sunlight also cause a decrease in energy output. So, its delivery can be interrupted by a change in climate, for example, cloudy days and night, etc.

Advantages

  • Solar power can be used in almost all areas of the world.
  • It is an ecofriendly source of energy because it does not evolve harmful gases.
  • Solar panels have a long life span.
  • It requires extremely low maintenance.
  • It has a simple installation system.
  • It shows the power output that is predictable.
  • It does not need personal monitoring.

Disadvantages

  • It has a high initial cost.
  • It requires the use of a large battery bank as an alternative source of energy in case of power interruption.
  • It needs good solar exposure.
  • The installation of a solar power system may cause pollution because it causes the evolution of greenhouse gasses.

Key Differences

  1. A type of energy resource that is obtained from moving water is known as hydropower, whereas, a type of energy resource that is obtained from the sunlight is known as solar power.
  2. For the production of hydropower, turbines are used that converts the kinetic energy of moving water into hydropower. On the other hand, solar power is obtained by using the solar plates that capture the energy from sunlight and convert it into solar power.
  3. Hydropower is considered a more reliable source of energy because it shows a stable supply of power. Conversely, solar power is an intermittent source of energy with interrupted periods of energy supply during cloudy days and at night, etc.
  4. Hydropower is known as a cheap source of energy worldwide. On the flip side, solar power is an expensive source of energy as compared to hydropower.
  5. Hydropower causes a great environmental impact because the construction of dams for the generation of hydropower disturbs the animal, fish, and plant habitats. On the other side, solar power has a little environmental impact as it increases the heat in the area of solar plant systems.
  6. Hydropower cannot be used as an energy source for small portable devices while, solar power can be used as an energy source for small devices like a flashlight, watch or calculator, etc. because its system is easy to install in small portable devices.
  7. Hydropower has predictable power output per year. On the other hand, the power output in solar plants is predictable in some areas only.
  8. Hydropower does not need a large battery bank, whereas; solar power requires the use of large battery banks due to variable power output in different areas.
  9. Hydropower is not suitable in many areas due to the unavailability of resources. On the flip side, solar power is suitable in almost every location.
  10. In the hydropower system, moving parts may eventually wear out. On the other hand, the solar power system has a long life span.
  11. Climate does not disturb the generation of hydropower, whereas changes in climate like cloudy days, etc. disturb the power output in solar power.
  12. Hydropower does not involve the emission of harmful gasses in the environment. On the flip side, the installation of solar power may involve the emission of many greenhouse gasses that causes pollution.
  13. Hydropower has many alternative uses like water facilities in hydropower plants used for boating, swimming, and fishing, etc. It is also used for irrigation purposes. On the other side, solar power does not have such alternative facilities.

Comparison Video

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Conclusion

The above discussion summarizes that both hydropower and solar power are renewable resources of energy. Hydropower is the energy that is obtained from the kinetic energy of moving water. On the other side, solar power is obtained from the energy of the sun with the help of solar panels.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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