What is the area needed to power the world using solar alone?

What is the area needed to power the world using solar alone?

How many square kilometers do you think is the surface area required to power the whole world with zero carbon emissions using solar solutions alone? Hint – it’s tiny!

Land Art Generator creates infographics to explain energy production and consumption, used by the International Energy Agency and other institutions.

Their research shows that if you placed all the solar panels in different regions side by side the amount of surface area needed for enough solar panels to power the whole world is a lot less than one might think.

Based on actual consumption going back as far as 1980 the projected number of square kilometers needed for enough solar panels to power the whole world is, based on worst case scenarios…

496,805 square kilometers!

That’s not that much considering the whole landmass. By comparison…

  • There are 1.2 million square kilometers of farmland in China alone.
  • The Sahara Desert is 9,064,958 square kilometers, or 18 times the total required area to fuel the world.
  • A typical golf course is around one square kilometer and there are over 40,000 of those all over the world. 

Their infographic illustrates this to scale. Click on the image below to open the infographic in full size. 

Land Art Generator’s accompanying notes.

“Areas are calculated based on an assumption of 20% operating efficiency of collection devices and a 2000 hour per year natural solar input of 1000 watts per square meter striking the surface. Nineteen areas are distributed on the map approximating proportional areas based on 2009 usage. In practice these would be distributed across many installations from rooftops to megawatt arrays, localizing production as much as possible. The large square in the Saharan Desert (1/4 of the overall 2030 required area) is sufficient to power all of Europe and North Africa. The definition of “power” covers the fuel required to run all electrical consumption, all machinery, and all forms of transportation. It is based on the US Department of Energy statistics of worldwide Btu consumption and estimates the 2030 usage (678 quadrillion Btu) to be 44% greater than that of 2008”

 

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Acknowledgments

Further reading

The original article pulled from their archives explains the rationale and the above comparisons. Link

Solar forecasted as the cheapest source for UK electricity needs

Solar forecasted as the cheapest source for UK electricity needs

The UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has forecasted large-scale solar power generation as the cheapest form of electricity generation in the near future.

The analysis looked at solar PV, onshore wind, offshore wind and combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT).

The department’s “Electricity Generation Costs 2020” report predicts that commercial solar generation will cost less than onshore and offshore wind, and even half that of gas turbine alternatives.

 

Image: CAPEX estimates for large scale solar, onshore and offshore wind and gas turbines from 2025 to 2040

Solar industry view

Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association stated: “The industry has known for a long time that large-scale solar is one of the cheapest power technologies available today, and we are pleased that this has now been officially recognised.”

UK Governments view

The UK Government recently called for evidence to support the belief that renewable generation could quadruple in total capacity over the next thirty years or so. Modelling with the CAPEX of solar PV projected to fall, the Government is considering the potential for substantial solar PV capacity growth in the coming years.

The long awaited Energy White Paper has now been published, stating that the UK has set a world-leading net zero target making it the first major economy to do so, and stipulating that setting a target is not enough, we need to achieve it.

The white paper opens with the statements…

“We are on the cusp of a global Green Industrial Revolution”.

“The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan has set out the measures that will help ensure the UK is at the forefront of this revolution, just as we led the first over two centuries ago.”

Further reading

Acknowledgements

Image credits: All the above images generated in-house

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Why is Solar Energy considered the best option?

Why is Solar Energy considered the best option?

Why is solar energy a better solution than other existing fossil fuel or renewable sources.

It nearly all stems from solar anyway!

Almost all of the energy we have on earth comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. Think of wood charcoal, coal, petroleum, wind, waves and natural gas as stored sunlight and you have an inkling that solar is the best alternative.

Location plays a part as many commercial properties do not have direct access to Solar’s competitors, wave, wind, etc. However, most properties have access to sunlight.

Solar energy can be regarded as the best alternative because it’s the easiest, cheapest, simplest, most widely available technology to deploy. To get started with solar energy you need a very small investment, you don’t need a windy location, or to be located next to a stream or body of water. Solar is easily scalable so you can start with a small array and just keep adding panels, even in the hundreds. The same technology used to build a small solar array can be used to build a megawatt solar farm. The same concepts apply albeit with more complexity.

Solar energy is a renewable, reliable and sustainable source of clean energy. A good quality solar-powered system is an investment for 25 years.

But what about the costs of going solar?

Solar energy has become more cost-effective than “regular” or standard electricity. Installing solar panels is cheaper than other energy resources such as coal, natural gas or other fossil fuel options. 

Although generating your own electricity on-site is cheaper than buying from the National Grid, businesses are put off due to the capital expense of installing and maintaining the system when measured against the pay-back period until the savings exceed the project costs.  

The Plug – The Hausch Solution

We have a number of fee-free solutions which require zero capital expenditure, providing all-inclusive ‘self-funding’* projects requiring no capital expenditure but still providing reduced energy bills and a lowe carbon footprint from ‘day one’

Thinking about “Going Solar”

  • If you are a UK based business with up to 11,000 square metres of roof area (about the same size as Trafalgar Square) and you want to reduce your annual electricity bills and carbon footprint sooner rather than later without the need to invest your own capital and with no need for planning permission then you can submit a non-cost and commitment enquiry form on this UK SME Solar Scheme page.
  • If you have a larger site in the UK and/or you want to add other tech to the mix such as Waste Heat Recovery, Geothermal, Wind CHP etc, then this is the best page to read next. 
  • OR, if you are not sure about your needs and requirements we are very happy to answer any questions and give you some ideas. You can call us on 

Notes
*The cost of the installation is met from a percentage of the reduced energy. Once the costs have been covered you receive the full energy bill savings.

What is public support for renewable energy in the UK?

What is public support for renewable energy in the UK?

UK support is highest yet for solar, wave and wind energy, according to the latest report by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

 How do the figures stack up?

The latest Public Attitudes Tracker by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) suggests that approx 80% of people in the UK expressed support for renewable energy, with 445 strongly supporting it. Only 2% oppose the use of renewable energy.

  • 80% of the respondents support solar energy
  • 79% support wave and tidal power
  • 77% are in favour of offshore wind farms
  • 73% are in favour of onshore wind energy generation

This ties in with the findings that 80% of the UK population are either very, or fairly concerned about climate change.

Acknowledgments

Read the BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker June 2020 key findings

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Countering Fossil-Fuel’s Drawbacks

Countering Fossil-Fuel’s Drawbacks

Using fossil fuels has major drawbacks in addition to their combustion emitting greenhouse gases. A considerable portion of the energy produced goes to waste, mostly heat in combustion processes, power plants, and due to high-temperatures.

Specialist consultancy Capgemini recently produced its report ‘Investments in next-generation clean technologies. 55 Tech Quests to accelerate Europe’s recovery and pave the way to climate neutrality.’ in which they identify 55 actionable recommendations around the solutions and projects that can be scaled up to help meet net-zero targets, from new generation solar modules and bifacial solar panels to large-scale hydrogen production and combined solar generation, energy storage, and grids.

Solar takes center stage

Solar technologies took center stage in the report when it came to energy generation, with Capgemini identifying the need for giga-scale manufacturing of new solar modules and increased use of bifacial panels to improve efficiency. This appears to be confirmed by the International Energy Agency’s recent ‘World Energy Outlook’ report in which they place solar energy as the ‘new king’ of the energy sector. They estimate that globally, annual additions of the technology are set to almost triple by 2030 from today’s levels, setting new records for deployment each year after 2022.

Floating offshore wind as a solution

Offshore floating wind was also identified as a technology quest, with a need to “unlock” 80% of Europe’s offshore wind potential through a rapid scale-up of new generation floating wind structures. In the UK there is a growing push in the sector, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently increasing the country’s target to 40GW of offshore wind by 2030. To reach this he has committed £160 million of funding to develop the supply chain, with a particular focus on floating wind.

Heat Pumps are a hot recommendation

The Capgemini report highlighted heat pumps as a technology quest in their own right, with Capgemini identifying the need to multiply the number of installed heat pumps, betting on synergies with the EV industry to launch low-cost heat pump factories. 

Storing energy is important

Energy storage was also identified as its own separate technology, with a need to develop viable short to long duration storage alternatives to lithium-ion batteries, which the report suggests may not be the go-to choice for stationary storage for environmental and economic reasons.

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