The total area of solar panels it would take to power the world, Europe, and Germany

"The red squares represent the area that would be enough for solar power plants to produce a quantity of electricity consumed by the world today, in Europe (EU-25) and Germany (De). (Data provided by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), 2005)" - Wikipedia

(via Cliff Pickover's Reality Carnival)

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  1. Terrible piece of reportage, and bad headlining. What little there is at the end of the line fails to define at what solar efficiency they're talking about: current practical or theoretical 100%. Addtionally the graphic is not actually "to power the world" but to supply worldwide electricity. A large amount of power yes, but not the same thing. According to wiki it's about 1/7 total power used.

  2. Why? Because a few of the people who live there are "bad"? Given that vast panel farms would improve the local climate and create huge numbers of jobs on land that is currently unused and hostile to all life, I can't think of anywhere better.


    “All the world’s power could be provided by a square 100 km by 100 km in the Sahara.” Is this true? Concentrating solar power in deserts delivers an average power per unit land area of roughly 15 W/m2. So, allowing no space for anything else in such a square, the power delivered would be 150 GW. This is not the same as current world power consumption. It’s not even near current world electricity consumption, which is 2000 GW.World power consumption today is 15 000 GW. So the correct statement about power from the Sahara is that today’s consumption could be provided by a 1000 km by 1000 km square in the desert, completely filled with concentrating solar power. That’s four times the area of the UK. And if we are interested in living in an equitable world, we should presumably aim to supply more than today’s consumption. To supply every person in the world with an average European’s power consumption (125 kWh/d), the area required would be two 1000 km by 1000 km squares in the desert.

  4. The hating on solar is getting ridiculous and fake-factoidy. Is this 1994 and are we all getting lollipops from the Heritage Foundation?

    From a power-generation standpoint, if it makes a profit, it makes sense to do it. The price of generation for panels and thermal is already well past the breakeven point. Transmission is an issue only in the sense that none of the easily workable ideas for long-distance transmission with minimal loss have been tried yet only because no one has absolutely needed to actually do it. It would be handy to have that capability in current grids and we should try out the technology, but the reasons we haven't done it yet are political, not rational.

    From a geopolitical standpoint, decentralized harvesting of solar (and wind and other renewables) is almost the exact reverse of petrodollar fuckery. Construction and maintenance alone spreads population out and reduces the choke points for economic man-in-the-middle attacks. The local population needed to run the arrays would rely on the power generated and the local security needed to live, so simple democracy by the people that live in the shade of the arrays should suffice. The dumbness of saying that this is exactly like oil infrastructure shouldn't need to be pointed out, but here ya go.

    From a climate perspective, shading the blasted wastelands and dry bush of the American Southwest, Sahara, Arabia/Mesopotamia, Australia, and southern Africa, is nothing but a win when we're looking at thermal manipulation of climate against the trend.

    Generally, I don't see anything about this idea that is impossible or actually makes the world worse. Since this idea was first put forward a few years ago, the bullshit attacks on it have relied on childish derision. The worst thing you can say is that it probably won't be the only way we will generate energy. Gasp. Better stahp dis naow.

  5. India is one country that has made a solid push toward solar conversion. (In part to battle rural coal use.) They tried (successfully) a pilot program using arrays over canals. That had the combined effect of preserving land space and reducing water evaporation. After the trial, that program was expanded.

    I'm posting that info just to show that arrays needn't cover land space, and may provide secondary benefits.

    Just days ago, it was announced that India nationally now seeks to install 20GW by 2022. They currently run 2.5GW. The biggest slowdown on construction comes from recent anti-dumping laws directly tied to waste from the solar industry. Those laws are expected to push the market back by about two years.

    This news is recent enough that the new formal National Energy Policy has not yet been released, only goals have been outlined. So, it will be interesting to see how they intend to achieve their goals.

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