Solar energy is an important source of energy for the Earth but it remains largely untapped. Land Art Generator has made some calculations that suggest the number of solar panels needed to power the entire planet.
Solar energy is being harvested in many parts of the world and in the U.S. only 0.39 percent of the overall energy comes from solar panels. However, this tiny figure is estimated to increase rapidly in the next few years. Elon Musk, the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, envisions that solar energy will dominate all energy sources in the world by 2031.
The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that energy requirement from all sources on the Earth energy will reach 678 quadrillion Btu by 2030, which is 44 percent increase in comparison to 2008.
Land Art Generator has converted this energy requirement to 198,721,800,000,000 kw-hours and divided the figure by 400 kw-hours of solar energy that can be produced in each square meter of land that has solar panels.
The calculation of 400 kw-hours was based upon the assumption that solar panels installed in these regions will give 20 percent solar panel efficiency based on 70 percent of sunshine days per year. The calculation also takes into account that per square meter of solar panels is hit by 1,000 watts of solar energy.
Based on Land Art Generator's calculations, the Earth will need 191,817 square miles, or 496,805 square km, of solar panels for lighting up the entire planet with renewable power. The land mass calculated by Land Art Generator is nearly the size of current day Spain.
"The UAE has plans to construct 1,500MW of capacity by 2020 which will require a space of 3 km per side. If the UAE constructed the other 7 km per side of that area, it would be able to power itself as a nation completely with solar energy. The USA would require a much larger area and approximately 1,000 of these super-sites," per Land Art Generator.
The United Nations claims that humans destroy about 170,000 square km of forest per year. If solar panels are constructed at a similar pace, then the energy crisis on the Earth will be finished in just three years.
Photo: Oregon Department of Transportation | Flickr