Monday, July 31, 2006

Land Needed to Run Entire World on Solar Power takes a look at how much land would be needed to power the entire world with solar cells.

Solar power systems installed in the areas defined by the dark disks could provide a little more than the world's current total primary energy demand (assuming a conversion efficiency of 8 %). That is, all energy currently consumed, including heat, electricity, fossil fuels, etc., would be produced in the form of electricity by solar cells. The colors in the map show the local solar irradiance averaged over three years from 1991 to 1993 (24 hours a day) taking into account the cloud coverage available from weather satellites.
I like this because it gives you a good perspective as to how much space would be needed. Looked at this way, it does not appear to be that much land at all and all of the land he suggests is desert.

Location / Desert Desert Size /
Irradiation /
W m-2
Area required /
Africa, Sahara 9,064,960 260 144,231
Australia, Great Sandy 388,500 265 141,509
China, Takla Makan 271,950 210 178,571
Middle-East, Arabian 2,589,910 270 138,889
South America, Atacama 139,860 275 136,364
U.S.A., Great Basin 492,100 220 170,455

Now all we need is for the progress ratio to kick in and get solar panel prices down so that solar electricity is cheaper than burning coal. Hopefully sometime around 2023 if not sooner.

via via Wikipedia

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