Interesting question! Assuming that in 2009 the United States put energy into the grid using 10,000 square miles of the most efficient solar panels which would be the SANYO HIT Power 220A, generating 220 watts and covering 1.26 square meters each, only 6,994 square miles would be needed to meet all the energy demands to the United States! (assuming absence of cloudy skies for a full year where the panels are).
That’s great! I say we put twenty-four 5000 square mile plants throughout the nation and tie them into the grid. Sprinkle in a few wind and nuke plants (the new type) in key areas and we’re good. Say so long to coal, oil, gas for electrical power production. Thanks for the answer.
There are answers and then there are answers. Unfortunately, beyond the esoteric fantasy of this one, this answer is not one of them.
Within the scope of that 120,000 square miles of solar panels: who are the ones that would be displaced to make room for their installation? They would also represent the concept of all of the nations energy eggs–in one basket. Solar energy is just one facet of the answer to this nations energy needs and for better or worse, petro energy is going to be the major part of that answer for a long, long time to come.
My guess is that a Long long time=about 20 years.
Once upon a time, whale oil and wood were the primary energy sources for the worlds economies. Then petroleum entered the equation of the nations energy solution and made them obsolete. Still unanswered by the solutions of “clean energy”: they come nowhere near to petroleum in energy efficiency. Then there is the whole issue of new technology in the area of thermal polymerization, which can generate anywhere between 3 and 12 billion barrels of oil each year from organic waste.
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