Your Questions About Solar Power

Joseph asks…

How much would it cost, and how much land would be need to get all the electricity in the US from Solar Power?

Im just curious as to if this is even possible. How much total power is used on average by the US? How much would it cost to make this many solar panels or other systems to make electricity from the sun? Im trying to figure out an estimate of how much it would cost to get all the electricity used in the us from solar power.

ssadmin answers:

15Watt 38in x 13in = 494sqIn Scale this up by a factor of 1 million

15Mega Watt = 494,000,000 sqin

494 000 000 square inch = 78.75 acre

Sofar 15Mega Watts from 1,000,000 panels needs 78.75 acres lets scale this up to equal SqMiles (640 acres = 1 sqMile) Note the area doesn't consider additional room between the panels. You will need additional space so you can walk between them so as to be able to service them etc.

15 * (640/78.75)= 121.9 MegaWatts / SqMile
1000000 * (640/78.75) = 8126985 * $100each = $812,698,400

So far that is over $812 Billion and you have enough wattage to replace one nuclear power plant.

Your going to need more land than 1 sq mil, you will need additional hard ware to mount the panels.
So you can easily quadruple the cost and area requirements to $3.248 trillion(not counting the purchase of the land) on 4 square miles with 32,507,940 (32.5 million) solar panels

Why quadruple the cost? Remember that the panels are only exposed to 1/2 day worth of light so you need at least twice the capacity to store half of what you generate in batteries for night time use. And this is being generous in assuming that you get 100% efficiency and no cloudy days. The additional cost of batteries, wire , solar trackers etc are only partially covered in this estimate. Then you will have maintenance costs to keep the panels operating at peak performance and replace damage. (imagine what a hail storm would do)

And all of this to replace a single 120 mega watt power plant.

Chris asks…

If a business/home runs solely on solar power, what happens to electric bills?

If it ran on 100% solar power, would the business/home ever have to use business from an electric company? Could it eliminate power bills completely? Thanks.

ssadmin answers:

There are several ways to use solar. My system is hooked to the grid, In the summer it generates more than 75% of my electricity when I'm generating more than I can use my meter runs backwards and I am selling back my excess, at night when I'm not generating my meter runs backwards. This months bill should be about $25.

I could have purchased a larger system that would zero out my bill while still hooked to the grid, some utilities will actually pay you if you generate more than you use.

Another option is to have a large system with a battery storage system. With this option you can choose to be connected to the grid or not. If you disconnect from the grid you should have no bill from the electric company however you also won't have any back up incase of system problems. If you stay on the grid but use no electricity you still may have a small charge for regulatory fees or things of that nature.

Larry Hagman has such a large system he actually allows the utility to give his excess to a couple low income families.

Nancy asks…

How does the energy from a solar power STATION reach the houses?

Pls. answer quickly!! i need it for my social project which is due next week. I want how the power from a solar power STATION reach homes. It should not be how power reaches from the solar panels on top of roofs to the house! Thank You In Advance!!!!

ssadmin answers:

Electricity from a solar power plant is transfered in the same way as other power production methods. The power enters the grid at a “sub station” and runs through a transformer to bring it to the right transmission voltage. The power then travels down the desired power line to a residential substation for example. This substation transforms the power into 240v single phase power. This power is spit in half at each houses electrical box and provides all the home outlets with 120V Ac.

If you are interested in learning more about some of the components visit:

Hope that helps.

Maria asks…

How much of our energy do we get from Solar power?

And what are some of the Advantages and Disadvantages of solar power?

ssadmin answers:

It's a pretty small amount right now. The power companies don't want to invest in it because they're stuck in old ways of thinking about things. They look for ways to generate power at a central location and then distribute it to users. That model is a problem for solar because it would require large amounts of land for solar arrays to to generate bulk power.

Solar works better if it's generated in a distributed manner – In other words we need solar panels on every roof in America! Again the power companies are stuck in old ways of thinking, because they can't figure out how to make money that way, but there are other companies that are trying different business models.

Citizenre is a company that manufactures and rents solar panels to consumers for use in residential or industrial areas. Your rental fee is calculated based on the amount of power that the solar panels generate and you use. You pay the same amount per kilowatt as you would buying it from your utility company. If the panels generate more power than you use, it's sold to your regular utility company and you get a credit on your electric bill.

More information at:

Charles asks…

Is it possible to power the whole United States by solar power?

I saw a movie at school a while ago that said we could power the whole united states if we made a certain state all solar power (I can't remember which state). Also how many watts does the united states use that way i can calculate how many solar panels would be needed.

ssadmin answers:

Yes, of the 174 PW of energy that strikes the Earth 86,000 TW reaches the surface. Our global energy consumption is currently 15 TW. True, our current technology can only recover a small fraction of the energy that is available but this is the only source of energy that is greater than the amount of energy that we currently consume.

Current Photovoltaic technology only captures energy in a single wavelength determined by the valence electron shells of the semiconductors used, multiple layer cells can capture more wavelengths by using different semiconductor materials and both dye and quantum dot technology absorbs different frequencies and reemits the energy in the desired frequency. In the past few years, we've seen the efficiency of photovoltaics go from 10% to 42% and 65% is expected soon.

Energy can be stored in numerous ways including chemically in forms that can be used by our current infrastructure. Sandia Labs uses a solar furnace to produce methane, methanol, synthetic gasoline and synthetic diesel from CO2 and H2O.

Nano tubes promises to make artificial photosynthesis a reality and there are several other approaches that are promising.

Keep in mind that all sources of energy on Earth with the exception of nuclear and tidal are solar energy. Very inefficient solar energy and with the case of fossil fuels, accumulated over a long period of time. Also, most of the energy we use was collected by plants through photosynthesis which has a maximum efficiency of 6.6%. This means that current fossil fuels, biofuels, biomass, wave and wind energy are all forms of solar energy at efficiencies of much less than 1%. We only have to achieve minimal improvements of efficiencies in our chemical energy storage methods or other energy storage strategies to access a greater source of energy that what we currently use today.

Theoretically, we should be able to provide for our energy needs through solar power for the foreseeable future and we wouldn't even have to change our cars and factories as the energy could be stored as synthetic liquid fuels. Solar is the only available source of energy that will allow us to grow our industrial and economic base but Solar does require a lot more research and development and the public needs to be educated as to what is possible with solar power and with chemical energy storage.

For economic reasons, other alternate energy forms such as biomass/fuels, hydro, and wind will play a part in our near future but ultimately solar is the only game in town. Note that the use of fourth generation bio-fuels from pyrolysis/gasification of biomass and with biochar carbon sequestration of the pyrolysis/gasification charcoal byproduct will actually be carbon negative and undo some of the damage we've already done to our environment so it's actually necessary to have some gas guzzlers to help undo the damage.

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