Solar Power

I don’t smoke so I don’t have the back of a fag packet for this.

The earth receives about 274 million gigawatt-years of solar energy, which translates to an astonishing 8.2 million “quads” of Btu energy per year.

In case you haven’t heard, a “quad Btu” refers to one quadrillion British Thermal Units of energy, a common term used by energy economists. The entire human race currently uses about 400 quads of energy (in all forms) per year. Put another way, the solar energy hitting the earth exceeds the total energy consumed by humanity by a factor of over 20,000 times.”

So 1% of the earth’s surface covered by 1% efficient solar panels would generate more than double the amount of energy we need?

The earth’s surface is about 500,000,000 km³ so we need 5 million square kilometres of solar panels to feed the earth for the next couple of decades.

About half the Sahara or US should do it for world wide supply. We already get much of our energy from that fractious region so no additional problems there. If you’re not with that then two thirds of Australia will do at a push.

If we want it decentralised, then every country needs to have 1% of its surface area taken up by solar cells. The UK would need most of the Isle of Wight or to cover both Birmingham and Bristol completely.

Job done.

Next week, I reveal what killed the Dinosaurs and exactly why it is Archbishop Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI have such sinister voices.