Flagged Items Addressed in Recommendation Report

Date:   04/17/2021


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To:       Dr. Roshawnda Anderson

Cullen College of Engineering








Re:       Similarity Percentage with Respect to Flagged Items Addressed in Recommendation Report


The Recommendation report submitted in this document address the cost and efficiency and environmental impacts of wind energy and solar energy. When submitted “Turn it in” through the University of Houston’s “Blackboard”, a similarity report of 27% was registered in the system. Matches 5, 6, 7,  8, 10, 11, 12, and 15 are from the references section of my report. Matches 13, 18, 19, 21, 24 are from the title of the tables and figures. these matches were caused by following proper APA citation formatting. Matches 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23 were flagged when I paraphrased and quoted the content of the referenced articles. However, these items were properly cited with APA formatting as well.













Current Date: 04/17/2021


Dr. Roshawnda Anderson

Associate Dean of Administration

Cullen Engineering Bldg 2

4722 Calhoun Rd

Houston, TX 77204


Dear Professor Anderson: This document includes a recommendation report that is titled, Recommendation Report Evaluating the cost and efficiency and environmental impacts of wind energy and solar energy. This report will meet the requirement for ENGI 2304: Technical Communications for Engineers.


If you have any questions with regards to this report, please contact me at


Your consideration of this recommendation report would be greatly appreciated.


Best regards,



Enclosure: Recommendation Report




Recommendation Report Evaluating the cost and efficiency and environmental impacts of wind energy and solar energy




A Recommendation Report



Chuong Tran











Tables of Contents

List of Tables and Figures. 1

Abstract 2

Introduction. 3

Purpose. 3

Problem.. 3

. 4

Scope. 4

Discussion. 5

Cost and Efficiency. 5

Explanation. 5

Data. 5

Interpretation. 7

Environmental Effect 8

Explanation. 8

Data. 8

Interpretation. 12

Conclusion. 13

Summary. 13

Conclusion. 13

Recommendation. 13

Contact 13






List of Tables and Figures


Table 1. Relationship between Configuration and Land-Use Area of Wind energy. 6

Table 2.  Summary of Land-Use Requirements for PV and CSP Projects in the United States. 6



Figure 1. Image of a wind turbine. 4

Figure 2. Image of solar panels. 4

Figure 3. Number of toxicology-related studies on silicon-based solar cells. 9

Figure 4. Environmental impacts related to wind energy. 10

Figure 5. Predicted evolution of the PV waste streams in Europe and Italy. 11

Figure 6. Blade waste material forecast from wind turbines in Europe until 2050. 11












Human has been using fossil fuels as main energy resources for years and has left a large negative impact on the Earth as it produces a large amount of carbon dioxide which can lead to environmental degradation. With rising concerns about the pollution effects caused by fossil fuels energy, renewable energy has gained more attention from the community for decades. This recommendation report researches solar energy and wind energy. Both currently are the two of the biggest renewable energy resources and contribute greatly to the achievement of sustainable development. Comparisons will be evaluated between two energy resources to determine which of the two is the better energy resource. The evaluation of the two will be based on cost and efficiency and environmental impact. The results indicate that solar energy is more efficient than wind energy in terms of land-use requirements. In terms of the cost of electricity, wind energy has a bit more competitive price than solar energy. Also, wind energy was proven to have fewer negative impacts on the environment compared to solar energy. However, further researches are needed to provide more advanced technologies and facilities to enhance the efficiency and reduce the negative effect on the environment of both energy resources.













The purpose of this report is to evaluate the cost and efficiency and environmental impacts of wind energy or solar energy to recommend the use of wind or solar power to combat the pollution caused by fossil fuels energy. This report will meet the requirement for ENGI 2304: Technical Communications for Engineers.


Along with the economic growth, environmental pollution is an alarming problem. The rapid growth of industries has demanded a huge amount of energy that leads to the overuse of fossil fuels as the main resources to produce power in the past few decades. However, the use of fossil fuel energy has been leaving a huge impact on the Earth and causing environmental degradation. Pollution emission from the fossil energy production process directly affects all species. Moreover, fossil fuels are nonrenewable and predicted to be diminished in the next decades.

To deal with this problem, renewable energy resources are recommended with the expectation that the dependence on fossil fuels and the pollution emission would be reduced. Among many different kinds of renewable resources, wind energy and solar energy are some of the most promising alternatives due to their abilities to produce power by using unlimited resources such as wind flows and the sun’s rays and emit a minimum amount of pollution.

The article will compare the mentioned energy resources by two specific criteria, cost and efficiency, and environmental impact in order to conclude which one is the most beneficial renewable energy resource to help achieve the goal of sustainable development.

Figure 1. Image of a wind turbine [10].


Figure 2. Image of solar panels [11].



This report will analyze the cost and efficiency and environmental impact of wind energy and solar energy. The first criteria that will be taken into consideration are the cost to produce energy and how much energy can be produced per area. The second criteria will be evaluated based on the harm they can cause to the environment, and the possibility to recycle the components of wind turbines or solar panels. This report will not go into detailed about how the costs of electricity are calculated.




Cost and Efficiency



Some of the concerns regarding creating a material is its ability to produce a desired product with a minimum of expense and wasted resources. These values are significantly crucial to the decision to invest in producing renewable energy. This session will discuss the cost to produce power and area of land required to product one unit of electricity.




Land-use requirement

In this report, data of the land-use requirement associated with wind power plants and solar power farms is provided. The table shows the area needed based on different technologies and configurations of solar and wind power. Three primary metrics used in the report are direct impact area, total area, and percentage of direct impact area over the total area. Direct impact area comprises land directly occupied by solar arrays, wind turbines, access roads, substations, service buildings, and other infrastructure [2]. For wind energy, the main focus in this report is the permanent direct impact area which is the area that is occupied for the whole life of the facility. For solar energy, the analysis focuses on Capacity-weighted land use. The total area corresponds to all land enclosed by the site boundary.

Table 1. Relationship between Configuration and Land-Use Area of Wind energy [1]


Land-use requirement for wind power plants varies across configurations. In this paper, the average area of all configurations is taken into consideration to analyze and discuss. Based on Table 1, the average Direct Impact Area is 0.28 hectares/MW. The average total area required is 33.1 hectares/MW. The percentage of Direct Impact Area over Total Area is 0.84%.


Table 2.  Summary of Land-Use Requirements for PV and CSP Projects in the United States [2]


The land required for solar farm facilities has a wide range across different technologies. In the paper, the average area of all technologies is calculated. Based on Table 2, the average Direct Impact Area is 6.40 acres/MW (2.59 hectares/MW) and the average Total Area is 8.76 acres/MW (3.54 hectares/MW). The percentage of Direct Impact Area over Total Area is 73.16%.


Cost of electricity

Renewable energy does not only allow human beings to achieve sustainable development in energy demand but also offers a cheaper source of electricity. The research was done with a multi-factor learning curve (MFLC) method whose approach is based on cost minimization [3].

Three factors play an important role in determining the cost of electricity: capital, materials, and labor [3]. Capital and materials costs indicate expenses for the equipment costs, installation costs, and materials used in the construction of the project [3]. Labor costs are used in the construction, installation, operation, and maintenance cost [3]. Moreover, natural resources such as wind flow or sun’s rays have a great influence on the cost of electricity [3].

The cost of electricity for onshore wind energy is estimated at 0.055 USD/kWh [3]. The cost of electricity of solar power is measured to be 0.085 USD/kWh in 2018 [3].



Based on the above data, it can be said that solar energy is more efficient than wind energy in terms of land-use requirements. Wind plant demands 33.1 hectares for 1 MW worth of electricity while for a solar farm, the number is 3.54 hectares. Moreover, the Direct Area of wind energy occupies just 0.84% of the Total Area while it is 73.16% for solar energy. In terms of the cost of electricity, wind energy has a bit more competitive price than solar energy.



Environmental Effect



Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar power are listed as emission-free resources and offer a safer solution to many environmental problems associated with fossil fuels energy. However, the activity of the energy system and the materials and chemicals used to produce the materials such as solar photovoltaic cell and wind turbine leaves a big concern. This session will discuss the environmental impact of wind energy solar energy, and the abilities to recycle the components of wind turbines and solar panels.




Impact of solar energy and wind energy during its production process

Fig. 3 shows that there are several numbers of test that dedicated to leaching and toxicity. Solar cell devices contain toxic compounds such as Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), Strontium(Sn), Copper (Cu), and Iodine(I) [4]. These chemicals can leach out and be discharged directly or indirectly to the environment which can cause soil degradation and land mitigation [4]. Another impact that can be easily noticed is the power plant’s huge land occupation and the construction of solar plants which can affect the wildlife and its habitat.

Figure 3. Number of toxicology-related studies on silicon-based solar cells, including toxicity tests, leaching tests, recycling tests, life cycle assessments, and reviews for different types of solar cells. [4]


Fig. 4 shows some negative impacts that are caused by the wind farm. One of them is noise pollution [5]. Unpleasant noise can be generated by the aerodynamics of the wind flow with different velocities going through the giant wind turbine [5]. Another impact is bird fatalities which are caused by the collision between birds and turbine blades [5]. Also, wind turbines have been proved that they can generate electromagnetic radiations which can affect radio and television transmissions from the nearby station [5]. Another concern that can be listed is the unpredicted mitigation in environmental habitat [5]. Poor management in the installation of the wind farm could lead to negative alterations in soil and land.

Figure 4. Environmental impacts related to wind energy: 1) noise and visual, 2) bird fatality, 3) soil erosion and deforestation, 4) lightning from towers, 5) electromagnetic radiation, and 6) surrounding neighborhood [5]


Recycle and reuse the waste from solar panels and wind turbine blades

Fig. 5 and Fig. 6 shows that the PV waste and blade waste are predicted to reach the peak in year 2035 and year 2050 [6] [7]. Thus, the sustainability of renewable energy resources depends heavily on the effectiveness of the solution to recycle a huge volume of end-of-life photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.


Figure 5. Predicted evolution of the PV waste streams in Europe (a) and Italy (b).[6]


Figure 6. Blade waste material forecast from wind turbines in Europe until 2050. [7]



Wind turbine waste

Recycling and reusing waste from wind turbines is consists of a mechanical method, thermal method, and chemical method [8]. The mechanical method includes shredding, chopping, screening, straining to crush the waste into powders [8]. It then gets mixed with other materials in order to reuse for the production of construction materials such as artificial wood, asphalt, etc. [8]. For the thermal method, an external heating resource is introduced to degrade the waste composites and convert them into other products [8]. The chemical method uses supercritical fluids to decompose polymer matrices into useful chemical solvents [8]. The fibers then are restored with initial physical and chemical properties [8].


Solar panel waste

The physical method uses trichloroethylene to dissolve ethylene vinyl acetate sheets and recover silicon [6]. A silicon cell without damage can be recovered using the solvent at 80 °C for ten      days [6]. The thermal method uses high temperature to modify the characteristics of solar modules and decompose ethylene vinyl acetate sheets [6]. For the chemical method, Silver (Ag), Aluminum (Al), and Silicon (Si) wafer are recovered by the application of Nitric Acid (HNO3), Ethanoic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) solution, Phosphoric Acid (H3PO4). The recycled wafer is then used to generate new solar panels [6].



The development of solutions for recycling and reusing the end-of-life products of solar power and wind power is promising as there are several methods to solve the problem such as thermal method, chemical method, mechanical method [8]. However, the energy production activities leave more concerns. Some of the major ingredients of the solar cell contain harmful compounds such as Cd, Pb, Sn, Cu, and I can be unavoidably released to the environment causing an ecological disaster that needs many years to be recovered [4]. Compared to fossil fuels and solar energy, the negative impact of the wind energy system is negligible and avoided due to proper management.






This report evaluated both solar energy and wind energy based on two criteria: Cost and efficiency, and environmental effect. It can be said that solar energy is more efficient than wind energy in terms of land-use requirements while for the cost of electricity, wind energy has a bit more competitive price than solar energy. Wind energy was proven to have fewer negative impacts on the environment compared to solar energy.



The cost and efficiency of solar energy and wind energy can be broken down into two parts: land-use requirement and cost of electricity. For land occupation, solar energy is more efficient than wind energy as the percentage of Direct Impact Area over Total Area is 0.84% for wind energy while it is 73.16% for solar energy [1]. In terms of the cost of electricity, wind energy is estimated to be less expensive than solar energy as 0.055 USD/kWh compared to 0.085 USD/kWh [2]. For environmental effects, solar energy is proven to leave more negative impacts on the environmental system than wind energy due to the release of toxic chemical compounds [4]. Further researches are needed to find solutions for the efficiency of wind energy and the negative impact on environment of solar energy.



Wind energy is the most promising renewable energy resource in replacing fossil fuels energy due to its efficiency in cost and less negative impact on the environment.



For more information, contact Chuong Tran at 346-401-8929 or [email protected].




[1] Paul Denholm, Maureen Hand, Maddalena Jackson, Sean Ong (2019),” Land-Use Requirements of Modern Wind Power Plants in the United State,” Technical Report, NREL/TP-6A2-45834, August 2009.

[2] Sean Ong, Clinton Campbell, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, Garvin Heath (2013), “Land-Use Requirements for Solar Plants in the United States,” Technical Report, NREL/TP-6A20-56290, Tune 2013.

[3] Yue Yao, Jin-Hua Xu, De-Qiang Sun (2021), “Untangling global levelized cost of electricity based on multi-factor learning curve for renewable energy: Wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and bioenergy,” Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 285, 20 February 2021, 124827.

[4] Jin Il Kwak, Sun-Hwa Nam, Lia Kim, Youn-Joo An (2020), “Potential environmental risk of solar cells: Current knowledge and future challenges,” Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 392, 15 June 2020, 122297.

[5] Enas Taha Sayed, Tabbi Wilberforce, Khaled Elsaid, Malek Karmal Hussein Rabaia, Mohammad Ali Abdelkareem, Kyu-Jung Chae, A.G. Olabi (2021), “A critical review on environmental impacts of renewable energy systems and mitigation strategies: Wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal,” Science of the Total Environment, Volume 766, 20 April 2021, 144505.

[6] Flavia C.S.M. Padoan, Pietro Altimart, Francesca Pagnanelli (2019), “Recycling of end of life photovoltaic panels: A chemical prospective on process development,” Solar Energy, Volume 177, 1 January 2019, Pages 746-761.

[7] George Lichtenegger, Athanasisos A. Rentizelas, Nikoletta Trivyza, Stefan Siegi (2020), “Offshore and onshore wind turbine blade waste material forecast at a regional level in Europe until 2050,” Waste Management, Volume 106, 1 April 2020, Pages 120-131

[8] Manjeet Rani, Priyanka Choudhary, Venkata Krishnan, Sunny Zafar (2021), “A review on recycling and reuse methods for carbon fiber/glass fiber composites waste from wind turbine blades,” Composites Part B: Engineering, Volume 215, 15 June 2021, 108768.

[9] Benjamin Storrow (2019), “Giant Turbines Propel Boom in Wind Energy.” by, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/giant-turbines-propel-boom-in-wind-energy/.

[10] Bethany Brookshire (2020), “Let’s learn about solar power.” by, from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/lets-learn-about-solar-power.



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