In 2009, the Land Art Generator Initiative sponsored a study to determine just how many solar panels would be needed to supply the world energy demand in 2030. They undertook this research as part of their ongoing mission to educate the public about renewable energy of all kinds, including solar and wind energy especially. The results indicated that slightly less than 200,000 square miles of photovoltaic installations would meet the need for energy throughout the Earth. A 2015 recheck of the data revealed that projections for solar electric efficiency and world power demand were still holding true, so that estimate is still believed accurate.
How Much is 200,000 Square Miles?
How much does that amount of land represent? Do we have space for 200,000 square miles of photovoltaic farms? Is there enough usable land that receives sufficient sunlight to accomplish this goal?
Here are some facts about the world that put nearly 200,000 square miles into perspective:
- The US highway system is roughly 40,000 square miles, or one-fifth of the area needed.
- Approximately 40,000 golf courses around the world represent 20,000 square miles. That’s one-tenth of the required space.
- Every three years, 200,000 square miles of forest are destroyed. Much of that land is later abandoned by the people that cleared it.
- 200,000 square miles fits into just 5% of the Sahara Desert, an excellent location for gathering sunshine.
- A 2016 study indicated that if solar panels were mounted on every roof in the United States, the power they generated would supply roughly 40% of the national requirement for electricity. That was assuming only 15-20% efficiency, so if everyone used SunPower photovoltaic systems, it would supply much more!
And that last statement is the most telling — the more efficient the photovoltaic cells, the more production we get from every square mile of installed solar panels. That’s why it’s important to use SunPower solar panels, containing the most efficient photovoltaic cells on the market!
The facts are, if the people, governments and corporations of the world were dedicated to the idea of powering our Earth with solar energy, it could be done in a relatively short period of time. The technology exists and all it requires to finish the job is supporting the efforts of companies like SunPower and Solaron to install both rooftop and ground-based systems that meets the needs of residences, commercial buildings and consumers.