Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surface Area to Power the World

I thought these images were cute... Can anyone confirm the numbers (especially for the solar) as it looks much smaller than what I'd seen in some talks previously?


Ken SMith said...

I agree James. I think the difference is likely in the assumed efficiency. If you look at the original version of this graphic at, it states an assumption of 20% efficiency, which is at the very upper end of what is commercially available. I believe other maps I have seen use something like 12%, which is more indicative of high-end thin film solutions. There are also no assumptions about transmission losses or storage efficiencies, which obviously make a huge impact if you were to use a centralized power solution.
All this is not to knock the graphic - the point that there is plenty of solar power available to the world is still valid.

SnideGuy said...

The calculation I did a couple of years ago suggested that 100km on a side was sufficient for solar (10 000 km^2). Which sounds like a lot until you draw it on a map, at which point it seemed to be smaller than some of these pink dots.

- Witbrock