Elon musk says covering a space the size of Spain with solar panels could provide electricity to power the whole world, and scientists have come up with actual calculations that point to the fact that the Tesla Motors and SpaceX’s boss may be right.
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While speaking at the American Geophysical Union meeting on December 15, Elon Musk revealed installing solar panels in a sizeable corner of Utah or Nevada could provide the entire US with adequate electricity.
Musk had earlier made this same point on December 2 during the climate talk summit in Paris, France, while speaking at the Université de Paris Panthéon Sorbonne:
“The important thing to appreciate is if let's say the only thing we had was solar energy, that that was the only power source, if you just took a small section of Spain, you could power all of Europe,” Musk had said.
“It's a very small amount of area that's actually needed to generate the electricity we need to power civilization, or in the case of the US, a little corner of Nevada or Utah, power the entire United States,” he added.
The sunlight hitting Earth per hour is more than the whole world uses per year, and solar energy accounted for 0.39% of the entire energy used by the US last year. This according to Musk means that 20% of solar power can be captured with panels covering the size of Spain to power the whole world – something that could be achieved by 2030.
But some people still think that a solar panel space the size of Spain can’t power the whole world with electricity; making scientists to go into calculating what is required to get this done. So the Land Art Generator Initiative went ahead to calculate if this is actually feasible:
“678 quadrillion Btu (the US Energy Information Administration's estimation of global energy consumption by 2030) = 198,721,800,000,000 kilowatt-hours (simple conversion) divided by 400 kilowatt-hours of solar energy production per square meter of land (based on 20% efficiency, 70% sunshine days per year and the fact that 1,000 watts of solar energy strikes each square meter of land on Earth) = 496,805 square kilometers of solar panels (191,817 square miles).”
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This results show that this is a feasible and workable investment if governments would just do something about it. The advantage of this is that there won’t be any natural gas use, coal consumption, or fossil fuel oil; only renewable solar energy.