As you continue to see homes in your neighborhood install solar panels on their rooftops, you probably realize their electricity needs are about to be met mostly with green power, especially if they went through Solaron. And you may have heard about the perk where any excess, unused electricity gets put into California’s power grid with a payback to the panel owner. That might lead you to wonder: just how many solar panels would it take to power the entire nation?
With a bit of online research, you’ll find calculations based on solar panel size, wattage, and hours of sunlight per day depending on location and season. Depending on the averages used for the calculations, the end results can vary greatly. For this discussion, we use real-world data captured from existing solar arrays, as presented by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Make Room for Solar Panels
The NREL report estimates that it takes about 3.4 acres of solar panels to generate a gigawatt-hour of electricity per year. In order to power the United States, we would need 13.6 billion acres, or 21,250 square miles of solar panels. That may sound like a lot, and it is. This article from freeingenergy.com has some bulleted comparisons on how much land in the U.S. is set aside for energy production by other means, like coal, oil and gas. But to put it in perspective, the Mojave Desert in California is about 22 thousand square miles.
Reducing the Numbers
Of course, these calculations are made without considering all the solar panels already in place and the potential for more solar panels on rooftops. According to another report from the NREL, rooftop solar alone could generate about 34% of U.S. electricity requirements. That reduces the necessary land requirements for a fully solar-powered U.S. by nearly a third!
Along with that, the NREL based their reports from data collected in 2013. When producing electricity from sunlight, most solar panels at that time had an efficiency rate of around 14%. Current solar panels usually have an efficiency of 16-17%. Higher efficiency means less panels are needed to generate the same amount of electricity. SunPower panels, used exclusively by Solaron, have record efficiency ratings well over 22%!
Playing Your Part
Granted, you probably don’t own 22 thousand square miles to generate renewable energy for the United States. With your rooftop, however, you can lower the need for land-based solar! In order to get a free assessment on a solar panel system for your home, please give Solaron a call at 408-292-4328 in the Bay Area, or 916-631-9293 in Sacramento. If you prefer, fill out our online form. Powering up your home with solar panels helps power up America!