How much Solar Power Would it Take to Power Earth?

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Solar power is the way of the future. It provides power from the Sun, which humans have used for warmth, light, time and direction since long before recorded history. It only makes sense that this Star that provides us all with so much can also power our homes and lives. Many people have made the switch to solar power in their homes – which is expensive to purchase, but, saves on energy bills in the long run. Is it possible to use the solar energy gathered from the sun to power the entire Earth?


Many experts and scientist agree that powering the Earth is possible and many have proposed installing the necessary solar panels in some of the harshest, most uninhabitable places on Earth, the deserts. This proposal also makes sense because, the desert areas get the most sunlight and heat out of anywhere else on the planet, which are both necessary components for solar energy. The illustration (above) demonstrates an estimate of how much energy would be needed to power Germany (The small box on the right), Europe (middle box) and the entire planet (left box). These boxes are placed in the middle of the Sahara desert which cannot sustain life long term.

Solar energy is a seriously underrated resource.

More power from the sun hits the Earth in a single hour than humanity uses in an entire year, yet solar only provided for 0.39% of the energy used in the US last year. Visionaries like Elon Musk think that solar will become the biggest energy source by 2031, according to an interview with Tim Urban on Wait But Why.But what would a world powered by solar look like? The Earth would probably be littered with solar panels, right? Wrong. If solar is 20% efficient as it has been in lab tests at turning solar energy into power, we’d only need to cover a land area about the size of Spain to power the entire Earth renewably in 2030.


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)

So not only is Complete-reliance on solar energy possible, it is possible, within our lifetime, allowing more power, more environmentally sustainability and cleaner source energy.