How much space do we need to supply the whole world with solar power?

The wonderful crew at Land Art Generator have helped answer the question- how much space would we would need to use to power the entire world with solar energy?

So they created the graphic below showing just 496,905 square kilometers are needed to power the world with solar energy. That's less than the surface area of Spain.

The text underneath is a little hard to read, so I typed it out below.

- Areas are calculated based on an assumption of 20% operating efficiency of collecting devices and a 2000 hour per year natural solar input of 1000 watts per square meter striking the surface.

- These 19 areas distributed on the map show roughly what would be a reasonable responsibility for various parts of the world based on 2009 usage. They would be further divided many times, the more the better to reach a diversified infrastructure that localises use as much as possible.

- The large square in the Saharan Desert (1/4 of the overall 2030 required area) would power all of Europe and North Africa. Though very large, it is 18 times less than the total area of the desert.

- The definition of "power" covers the fuel required to run all electrical consumption, all machinery, and all forms of transportation. It is based on the US Department of Energy statistics world wide BTU consumption and estimates the 2030 usage (678 quadrillion Btu) to be 44% greater than that of 2008.

- Area calculations do not include magenta border lines.

Lets just put this into perspective for a moment- there are 1.2 million square kilometers of farmland in China. This is 2 and a 1/2 times the area of solar farm required to power the world in 2030.

A post published by IFL Science this week shows a more recent graphic reflecting similar findings when asking the question: How Much Room Do We Need To Supply The Entire World With Solar Electricity?

  • The red box on the right is what would need to be covered in solar panels in order to provide enough electricity for Germany.
  • The red box in the middle is what would need to be covered in solar panels in order to provide enough electricity for Europe.
  • The red box on the left is what would need to be covered in solar panels in order to provide enough electricity for the entire globe.


Germany is already setting a great example with a new record this month for producing 50.6% of it's energy with solar power, SENSATIONAL WORK!

Science Alert online reports that good weather helped increase production by 34%. 90 percent of Germany's solar panels are on individuals' roofs.

When we heard that the Australian Government was spending $4.5 million of taxpayers’ money on renovating the Prime Minister’s official residence, it got the 1 Million Women team thinking…What if solar panels could be included at The Lodge, PM Tony Abbott’s place in Canberra, as part of the renovation?

Email the Prime Minister here and let him know you support the solar lodge, EMAIL THE PRIME MINISTER , Share this email with your networks and urge them to send an email too.


Join us in taking practical action on dangerous climate change through the way that we live, the choices we make and the way we spend our money.