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article imageHow Much Land to Power The Whole World with Solar?

By Chris V. Thangham     Apr 6, 2007 in Environment
Just six spots on Earth with Solar Panels will be sufficient to power the entire Earth and more.
Solar has excellent potential but so far they have been under utilized with most of the time we hear that it is expensive and requires more land areas to generate a large amount of electricity. But Researchers have found out that very little amount of land is required to meet the entire power demands of the world.
The map below shows various colors, each color indicates the amount of solar irradiance the land area receives from the Sun and is averaged over 3 years. The bluer shades representing the Arctic and Antarctic receives less solar irradiance compared to other areas. The Hottest regions are represented by the dark red shades, you can see the Sahara region in those shades. If they place the Solar panels in these hottest regions, a large amount of energy can be harvested.
The darker disks represent the areas required to generate the electricity, and assuming 8% conversion efficiency in the solar cells, and the land area required are shown below:
Location Desert/ Desert Size /km2 Irradiation /W m-2 Area required / km2
Africa, Sahara 9,064,960, 260, 144,231
Australia, Great Sandy 388,500, 265, 141,509
China, Takla Makan 271,950, 210, 178,571
Middle-East, Arabian 2,589,910, 270, 138,889
South America, Atacama 139,860, 275, 136,364
U.S.A., Great Basin 492,100, 220, 170,455
Compared to the total area in each of these locations, only a portion of them are used. If the Solar panels are placed in these location, the researchers have calculated that the Photovoltaic systems installed in the areas would produce an average electric output of 18 TWe, i.e. 3 TWe each when assuming a conversion efficiency from incident sunlight to electricity of 8 %. This corresponds to an energy output of 13,567 Mtoe per year (world total primary energy supply (TPES) in 2003: 10,579 Mtoe
This study proves that just these 6 spots can produce electricity to meet all the demands of the world. Instead of using fossil fuels, nuclear energy, hydro electric and other means, the world can use Solar power to fuel the world. And if we incorporate the new Solar technology with dye sensitized Titanium dioxide Solar power, we can generate even more and in more areas.
Why the countries and Governments are not developing and working on Solar power is puzzling?
More about Land, Power whole world, Solar