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How Many Solar Panels Would It Take to Power The Entire World?

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posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 01:41 PM
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Solar Power is the red-headed step-child of the Electrical World. We are still a world dependent upon Gas, Oil, Coal and Nuclear resources to provide our Electrical needs. Hydraulic Power has seen limited use, and emerging technologies such as Hydrogen Power and Wind Power get far more limelight in the MSM and are considered far more sexy. We would even throw countless billions in the vain pursuit for that elusive snipe called Cold Fusion rather than talk about Solar Power. Even if we do talk about Solar Power we have to sex it up by talking beaming Electricity via Microwave Transmitters from Solar Collectors on the Moon!

However, even at 30% efficiency, conventional Solar Power is more than efficient to provide the entire World's Electrical needs exclusively. With emerging technologies increasing that efficiency to 40-42% we could sustain our growing demand for Electricity well through the end of this century and beyond.

So how many Solar Panels would it take to power the entire world?

Not as much as you may think!

How Many Solar Panels Would it Take to Power the Entire World

According to the above link, and the graphic they have provided, just 366,375 square kilometers (at current usage levels, or 496,905 square kilometers at 2030 estimated usage levels) using yesterday's Solar technology distributed across 19 geographical locations around the world. Overall, that's less than the size of the entire country of Spain!

So, Solar might not be sexy and it might not be seemingly efficient, but it's a constant power source that doesn't rely on non-renewable resources or causes pollution, and it is more than enough to provide power to the entire world with little resources. This promotes the question of why we don't seriously consider it a viable option.




posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 01:45 PM
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It would only take one big one, in space, beaming power to Earth via microwave laser to various collection points located in the deserts. The problem, however, is not power, it's too many people wanting power. Unfortunately, the more power you make available for people, the more they want, and the more children they have because the have the power. It's a vicious circle.



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 01:54 PM
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"I've just had a baby"

"here, have a solar panel"


This is a future I'd like to be a part of


um. no idea how many SPs it'd take to power us all. Either like Nohup said, 1 biggun in space. Or lots ond lots of little ones (much more profitable for a solar panel making company I'd have thought)

[edit on 1/9/2009 by Acidtastic]



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:01 PM
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Here is an example of Cost Benefits of using old fashioned 20th Century Solar Power vs. 21st Century Solar Power.

Goal - 250 Megawatts of Power to sustain @ 300,000 homes.

Old Fashioned Solar Cost $875 Million dollars (see California Edison Project)

New Microwave Beamed Solar from Space Cost $21 Billion dollars (see JAXA Project).

Which makes more sense? $875 million for tried-and-true technology or $21 billion for bleeding-edge may or may not work technology?

Do the math people! It doesn't have to be rocket science.



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:28 PM
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too much to be profitable. i would probably take 50 years before the investers, and companys started to see a slither of a profit.

plus the price per kw would sky rocket to compensate for just that.

[edit on 1-9-2009 by MR BOB]



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:30 PM
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I would like to see roads and things lie roof tiles generating power from the sun, and other things like vibration, heat, wind even sound... I think it's called 'beggar-tech'? Something like that, building in ways to capture the tiny bits of energy that added together really could help.

I think we are going to start seeing this going mainstream soonish - thing with solar power alone is that it's a kind of all the eggs in one basket - the sun aint there at night, and something like a volcano the other side of the world could leave you in a sudden over cast season for months.

Nice thought though - maybe instead of satellites beaming microwaves down to base stations as another poster said - how about tethered massive blimps? You could even kinda build walkways between them! A floating power station above the clouds so massive that wind currents hardly bother it - it would take a huge amount of nano-structure cables anchoured really well into the ground though - but imagine something the size of Wales and growing smack in the middle of the US or Oz land! - that would do it...



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:34 PM
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Originally posted by Nohup
The problem, however, is not power, it's too many people wanting power. Unfortunately, the more power you make available for people, the more they want, and the more children they have because the have the power. It's a vicious circle.



Originally posted by Acidtastic
"I've just had a baby"
"here, have a solar panel"
This is a future I'd like to be a part of


I think that is faulty logic and sensationalism to equate meeting Power Needs with methods that do not use non-renewable resources with causing an Increase Population Density. That kind of ignorance is not only counter-productive, but the reason why we are in such an Ecological mess and have to fight wars for the remaining reserves of non-renewable resources!

Assuming you both aren't part of the group that built the Georgia Guide Stones promoting depopulation of the planet, then I think it is safe to assume that you'd rather not have rolling Brownouts, and Blackouts like those facing Britain Britain facing blackouts for first time since 1970s.

Let's face it, our current Energy Crisis is costing Americans alone more than $100 Billion dollars a year from power outages and disruptions according to The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Meanwhile, to meet the demands for power in the United States alone, we have to rely on our dependency on Oil, Gas, and Coal being that no new Nuclear Power Plants have been built in the United States since 1977, and no new major Hydroelectric Power Plants have been built in the United States since 1944 (those proposed since have been canceled). Besides Oil, Gas and Coal not meeting our Electrical demands and using non-renewable resources they are the number one polluters to our environment and make us dependent upon foreign interests.

We are severely shorting ourselves by remaining dependent upon these 19th century methods of generating power to meet our 21st century needs. These methods are not enough to keep up with demand, and they are short-sighted because they rely on non-renewable resources, many of which are obtained from foreign interests. The cost of not meeting demands is costing us a hundred Billion dollars a year as a single nation.

What part of a one-time cost of $875 Million to save $1 Billion a year, reduce pollution, reduce our dependence upon non-renewable resources and foreign interests does not sound like a good idea?

Oh yeah...I forgot...if we don't have rolling Brownouts & Blackouts and have to rely on polluting, non-renewable resources from foreign powers for our Electricity, then people will inexplicably procreate en masse.

Do me a favor...do a Google Search on "Baby Boom during power outages". You'll be surprised to find news articles reporting that everywhere in the world that experiences a power outage or Blackout experiences a sudden boom in population! It sounds to me like having a cheap, sustainable, renewable power source such as Solar Panels can provide to prevent Blackouts would actually *PREVENT* these Baby Booms from occurring!



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:38 PM
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i think the solar panels we have today are great and all, but why aren't they more like nature?

Like a solar panel tree. from its natural form, one single structure with multiple leaf like panels, can even have a water collection system in them that filters rainwater and plant one in every backyard and park, bing bang boom, free water and power.....

stars ftw!

[edit on 1-9-2009 by Trance Optic]



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:43 PM
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You might like this book with the idea of solar panels on train track treds

the book is a really fun read too - well written - nice surprise

www.davidvproductions.com...

www.planetshifter.com...

www.krcb.org...



posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 03:28 PM
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Originally posted by MR BOB
too much to be profitable. i would probably take 50 years before the investers, and companys started to see a slither of a profit.

plus the price per kw would sky rocket to compensate for just that.


Let's do a comparison of Capital Costs, shall we...

Hydroelectric Dam costs $165,000,000,000 produces 2080 megawatts/hr for a cost of $80,000,000/MWH in Capital Costs.

Nuclear Power Plant costs $7,000,000,000 produces 1000 megawatts/hr for a cost of $7,000,000/MWH in Capital Costs.

Coal Power Plant costs $780,000,000 produces 250 megawatts/hr for a cost of $3,120,000/MWH in Capital Costs.

Petroleum Power Plant costs $138,000,000 produces 100 megawatts/hr for a cost of $1,380,000/MWH in Capital Costs.

Natural Gas Power Plant costs $1,200,000,000 produces 300 megawatts/hr for a cost of in $4,000,000/MWH in Capital Costs.

Geothermal Power Plant costs $17,500,000 produces 15 megawatts/hr for a cost of $1,166,666/MWH in Capital Costs.

(All information derived from the Electrical Information Administration www.eia.doe.gov)

So, how does traditional Solar Panels compare?

Well, take the Edison Project in California for a comparison:

Traditional Solar Power costs $875,000,000 produces 250 megawatts/hr for a cost of $3,500,000/MWH in Capital Costs. That puts it at the same Capital Cost per MWH as Coal which currently provides 49% of the power in the United States.

Granted the JAXA Project which utilizes Solar via Microwave Transmitter from Space would not be as comparable, and would be cost prohibitive as you have described (Solar Power via Microwave costs $21,000,000,000 produces 250 megawatts/hr for a cost of $84,000,000/MWH in Capital Costs putting in on par with Hydroelectric Dams).

So, a break down in Capital Costs (which Operating Costs is HIGHLY in favor of traditional Solar hands-down) per Power Source (in order of least expensive to most expensive per MWH):

1. Geothermal
2. Petroleum
3. Coal
4. Traditional Solar Panels
5. Natural Gas
6. Nuclear
7. Hydroelectric
8. Solar via Microwave

So, Solar Panels are middle of the road in Capital Costs...barely more than a Coal Plant but less than a Natural Gas Plant. The savings that Solar would recoup in Annual Operating Costs (as no raw materials is required, or waste is produced, require significantly less staff to operate, and is basically free energy after Capital Costs), in addition to the lesser impact on pollution and the environment, and lack of dependence on non-renewable resources should make them financially appealing to Power Companies. The only type of Power Source that has a lower Capital Cost and similarly low Operating Costs would be Geothermal which unfortunately is not high enough output to compare (the largest Geothermal Power Plant that has been proposed is only 20 MWH!).

Thus, economics hardly seems to be a factor in why Solar isn't being widely accepted. There has to be some other reason.

[edit on 1-9-2009 by fraterormus]



posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 08:34 PM
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I found the link (in the OP) just now and came to ATS to share it, but i was happy enough to find this thread.

I think this is something people may want to look at again. There is alot of fascinating information this small thread has, particularly with the BP disaster going on right now.

[/GLORIFIED BUMP]



posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 01:35 AM
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reply to post by fraterormus
 


Excellent thread and information thanks...

Does the cost per MWh for solar factor in conventional backup or over production and storage for nightime?

Costs would be even lower with newer panels such as NanoSolar

I suspect these costs are only this good in certain areas where conditions are suitable.



[edit on 16/6/2010 by LightFantastic]



posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 02:28 PM
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Originally posted by LightFantastic
reply to post by fraterormus
 


Excellent thread and information thanks...

Does the cost per MWh for solar factor in conventional backup or over production and storage for nightime?

Costs would be even lower with newer panels such as NanoSolar

I suspect these costs are only this good in certain areas where conditions are suitable.



[edit on 16/6/2010 by LightFantastic]


See this is the problem with ground-based solar power...

Peak need for power (in a domestic dwelling) doesn't fit in with the peak output times of a ground-based solar array - people want the lights and heating to work at night!

So, for Solar to be practical you need a way to store up all that energy for when it's needed while at the same time providing for the daytime needs of businesses and other users.

Current battery technology to provide for this would be very expensive and would need regular maintenance - Batteries are also not a "fit and forget" item and would need to be replaced as they fail.



posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 03:01 PM
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Solar panels are great for homes or small businesses.

But they are worthless for large power projects.

Solar systems for large power projects are of the Parabolic trough type or Power tower.
Both these are much more efficient then solar panels will ever be for large projects.
en.wikipedia.org...

I worked on both types, the Parabolic trough type at SEGS Kramer Junction, CA
en.wikipedia.org...

And the tower type at Solar One, Solar Two.
en.wikipedia.org...

Both of these system can store heat to run at night.
something solar panels can not do.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 08:31 PM
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Originally posted by fraterormus
What part of a one-time cost of $875 Million to save $1 Billion a year, reduce pollution, reduce our dependence upon non-renewable resources and foreign interests does not sound like a good idea?


That's 875 million to replace 250 MW. Not to power the country. That's about 1/4 of an average nuclear power plant. It'll take a hell of a lot more than 875 million to fix our power needs.



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