According to a Elon Musk, SEO of both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, it would take an area of about 200 square kilometers of solar panels to supplying all of the United States’ electricity needs.
Considering the size of the United States, that is a tiny proportion of land. Not much larger than Washington D.C. (177 km2)
We know that continually pumping carbon into our atmosphere is causing huge damage to the global environment. We know that climate change is happening, despite what certain politicians say. The majority of people know that there is no debate any more over whether climate change is real, that debate was over in the scientific community long ago.
The only debate in the scientific community now is: How bad is climate change going to be, and when will we start seeing catastrophic consequences to our actions?
There are no “climate change skeptics” any longer – only “climate change deniers”.
Since we can’t demolish Washington and turn it into a farm of solar panels (however much some people would like that to happen), it would be best to space the area out across the United States.
Which does beg the question: Since the area of land required is so small, why has it never been done?
An awful lot of solar panels would be needed to cover an area 200 square km!
Approximately 3 billion panels would be required. If the cost of each panel were to be $300-$350, the total cost of the project would be in the range of $1 Trillion. To put that in perspective, the US governments’ total spending in 2017 will be around $7 Trillion.
Although you could argue a trillion dollars is worth the investment considering the good we would be doing to our environment, that is just the cost of the panels.
It is without taking labor into consideration, or the fact that those costs are based on China manufacturing the panels. There would be no benefit to the US economy to buy the panels overseas, and to make them in the US the manufacturing costs would be considerably more.
- The investment required for infrastructure and additional equipment needed would be tremendous.
- It’s dark at night – no solar power generation during the night-time.
- Either traditional power would required during the night or batteries would be required for storage.
- A battery storage bank would be unimaginably huge for night storage at these power level. (Note: Despite many articles to the contrary, there is plenty of Lithium available to use for batteries across the entire globe)
- Solar panels and inverters are not 100% efficient.
- There will be cloudy days which will limit power.
- Less sun during the winter months unless this was built on the equator.
All of these issues will of course increase the cost of transferring to renewable energy.
Most estimates for the true cost come in at above $6 trillion.
Problem 2: Politicians
Although most people believe the Republican party are massively funded by the oil and gas industry, many do not realize that since 1990, almost a third of all donations by the industry goes to the Democrats.
That figure has become more one-sided in recent years, with the GOP receiving almost 90% of donations from the fossil fuel industry.
That being said, the second largest recipient of donations in 2015-2016 from the oil and gas industry, was Hillary Clinton.
Lobbying of this scale carries a huge amount of sway with both political parties.
While it may not be cost-effective to build a central location for our nation’s electricity needs, it is very doable to augment one’s own electricity needs with solar photovoltaic panels. Even building an off-grid system is entirely within the realm of possibilities for many people.
Storage of solar power within a Tesla PowerWall have enabled people to power their homes night and day using roof mounted solar panels.
This does not just mean they get their electricity needs, it includes the power required to run an electric car, using just solar panels fitted to a roof.
With the Tesla Powerwall costing $3500 though, many people are put off from buying a solar system to power their home.
However, Tesla’s decision to release the patent for their technology for fair use, people are building their own solar wall systems for a fraction of the cost.
This video shows how to build your own lithium battery storage system for as little as $300:
Barring a global disaster of epic proportions only seen in movies such as “The day after Tomorrow”, a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy is going to be slow if left to the politicians.
The costs involved and the fact that both political parties in America receive huge funds from the oil and gas industry will put a stop to any renewable power revolution.
That does not mean individuals cannot start the revolution though, after all, the government works for them, not the other way around.
If you value the lives of your children and grandchildren, making a switch to renewable energy, on however small of a scale, is every individuals responsibility.
Head over to SOLAR POWER AMERICA, and get all the information you need on what you can do to help the planet.
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