The truth is we cannot completely power the United States with solar power. Our needs are simply to great. However, 69% of the electricity and 35% of the power needed by Americans could be supplied by solar power alone. The initial costs would be great, about $420 billion dollars over 40 years. However, oil prices are only going to continue to rise. They are nonrenewable resources and their value will only go up as the availability decreases. There is no escaping the fact that one day oil will run out. Using solar, wind, tidal, and algal alternative energy are excellent alternatives that are cheap, clean, and can make everyone happy!
Actually, it is not true that we could not power the US’s energy needs only with solar power. In fact, it is estimated that each day, the sun hits the earth with 20,000 times the energy needed to run the ENTIRE PLANET. (see the cited web page for more details and math, also the first comment suggests that it is only 10,000 times more, but even so). Since the conversion rate of solar energy to usable electricity is about 20%, we would only need to cover 1/1000 of the planet with solar panels to run the world. Now, this is not quite true since we can make all the electricity we want, but will not be able to fill our gas powered cars. So, as jenlkinney states, the upstart cost would be huge, and, not to mention, unless you owned your solar panels, you would still be paying a premium for the energy you use.
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