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# Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77492469
Greece
04/01/2019 10:20 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
“If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States,”

“The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile.”

It’s “a little square on the U.S. map, and then there’s a little pixel inside there, and that’s the size of the battery park that you need to support that. Real tiny.”

If this were spread over the United States connected by a power grid sounds doable and not very intrusive, the panels also being on top of building roofs.. What we waiting for?
Quoting: norakat147

This entire fucking post is 100 pecent bullshit.

Lets see, add up all the square footage of solar panel currently in use in the US..

Hmm.. much more than OPs stupid post, yet we are still where we are.

What bullshit.

You people have no understanding of science, physics, electricity, none of it.

Fuck it, this is like talking to a potato about fine art.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 19728212

relax and take a deep breath. OP obviously meant a square area with side lengths of 100 miles. Which would be 100x100 = 10000 square miles

Doing the calculations, it turns out that this is roughly the area needed to produce the amount of energy per year the US consumes, if we were to trust the wikipedia article

US consumes roughly 4 trillion kwh yearly. 4000000000000 kwh

For a 10kwh system with about 20% efficient panels, you require roughly 50 square meters (m^2)

Such a system would produce roughly 10000 to 15000 kwh per year or about 30-45 kwh daily, depending on the location.

We go with the easy and conservative 10000 value

4 trillions divided by 10000 = 4000000000 hence, you need 400 million such 10kw solar systems, each taking up 50 square meters of space

400 millions * 50 square meters = 20 billion square meters

1 square kilometer = 1000m * 1000m = 1 million square meters

20 billion square meters / 1 million square meters = 20000

So we need 20000 square kilometers, which is square with side lengths of about ~141km each or about 90miles, close to the 100 miles value OP gave, except that he meant to say 100*100 = 10000 square miles
Anonymous Coward
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Greece
04/01/2019 10:37 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
The Mojave Desert is the hottest desert in North America, located primarily in southeastern California. Its total area is 22,000 sq mi (57,000 km2).

So basically, just filling that desert with solar panels would suffice to power all of the US in theory. Except, you would have to be very smart about it.

Industrial production would have to be reduced in winter times and increased when the sun is shining a lot.

You would have to create large scale non-battery based and efficient energy storage units for night time.
There are many methods.

With advancements in highly efficient hydrogen electrolysis, it might even make sense to turn some of the energy into hydrogen for later use.

Best would be to also combine it with hydrogen, wind, geothermal and power plants which extract energy from temperature difference between colder water at the ocean floor and warmer at the top.

If there is a breakthrough in creating the necessary high frequency nano diodes in infrared nano rectennas i mentioned above, then we can probably can go 99% solar with almost no requirement for batteries or other energy storage units.

Think of earth as a sun but instead of emitting ultraviolet and visible light, it emits lower frequency infrared electromagnetic waves into empty space 24/7.
That energy can and will be captured once optical infrared nano-rectennas are developed with the necessary diodes that can operate at very frequencies.
WaitTressSandwhich

User ID: 76356891
United States
04/01/2019 11:31 AM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
It won't work....just go 4:02 of the video

From the author of Blade Runner:

“There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'.”

Philip K. Dick
WaitTressSandwhich

User ID: 76356891
United States
04/01/2019 11:35 AM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
It won't work....just go 4:02 of the video

Quoting: WaitTressSandwhich

And just so you know...4000 acres is 6.25 sq miles. A 4,000 acre solar array won't even power the NY subway system!
From the author of Blade Runner:

“There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'.”

Philip K. Dick
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77498296
Japan
04/01/2019 11:39 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
this is from elon musk
ok
so once he makes one thing that works I'll take him seriously

wheres hiper loop ?
those big trucks electrical powered?
top of the car solar ?
cars dont work up north, too cold
oh, and good luck with across country road trip
recharge takes hours

wonderboy is shuffling too many things at same time
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57897053

he is trying to help save your ungrateful sorry asses

if you know what is good for you, you will get on-board NOW
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77498296
Japan
04/01/2019 11:40 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
It won't work....just go 4:02 of the video

Quoting: WaitTressSandwhich

And just so you know...4000 acres is 6.25 sq miles. A 4,000 acre solar array won't even power the NY subway system!
Quoting: WaitTressSandwhich

STFU

you know NOTHING dumbass
Achduke7

User ID: 75447583
United States
04/01/2019 04:25 PM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
It won't work....just go 4:02 of the video

Quoting: WaitTressSandwhich

And just so you know...4000 acres is 6.25 sq miles. A 4,000 acre solar array won't even power the NY subway system!
Quoting: WaitTressSandwhich

Given the U.S. consumes about 4 petawatts of electricity per year, we'd need about 13,600,000 acres or 21,250 square miles of solar panels to meet the total electricity requirements of the United States for a year. The yellow square is approximately 21,000 square miles.

Other older sites quote 16,000 square miles.

This is only considering electricity. If we converted all energy the US uses it comes to about 100 Quadrillion BTUs/year.

1,000,000,000 BTU/hr is around 293,071,070 Watts

As for the NY subway.

The power required to operate the subway system during peak hours is about 495,900 kilowatts or about .5 GW/hr.

A 1 GW capacity would require 4x1000 = 4,000 acres. This would be around 6.25 sq. miles of space.

I think 6.25 sq miles is enough power to run the NY subway at peak hours which comes comes in at .5 GigaWatts for at least for 12 hours if we consider 6 solar hours in the western desert.

Last Edited by Achduke7 on 04/01/2019 04:26 PM
Achduke
Anonymous Coward
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04/01/2019 04:43 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States

Quoting: norakat147

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 2226485
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04/01/2019 04:54 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
The Mojave Desert is the hottest desert in North America, located primarily in southeastern California.

Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77492469

solar panels energy transformation gets far LESS
efficient in hot weather.
RepublicofTexas

User ID: 75041330
04/01/2019 04:57 PM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
Screw the subways. Nobody in the real world cares about those. Set up your own solar panels on all of your buildings.
Make America Strong Again
Make America Sexy Again

I'm fukken this monkey, you just shut up and hold the tail."
Pooka

User ID: 36721404
United States
04/01/2019 04:58 PM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
I really do not like the idea of these huge projects either. More and more they tend to be redistribution of wealth from the taxpayer to the friends of the politicians. If all costs - environmental, administration, development, construction, staffing, maintenance, and replacement - are taken into consideration, they have too often been terribly expensive.

Look at Solyndra, a much hyped solar project:
"Solyndra misled government to get \$535M solar project loan: report

Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer who took more than \$500 million from President Obama’s stimulus then went bust, sticking taxpayers for the loss, lied to federal officials to secure the loan, the Energy Department’s inspector general said in a report released Wednesday."

Much better to pay individual households or companies to install their own solar for their own homes, or to make block grants to towns and cities to develop small local programs.
Quoting: Lily o' the Valley

Have to agree - smaller projects - politicians and friends have quite enough of our money. Makes sense, Miss Lily!
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RepublicofTexas

User ID: 75041330
04/01/2019 05:00 PM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
I really do not like the idea of these huge projects either. More and more they tend to be redistribution of wealth from the taxpayer to the friends of the politicians. If all costs - environmental, administration, development, construction, staffing, maintenance, and replacement - are taken into consideration, they have too often been terribly expensive.

Look at Solyndra, a much hyped solar project:
"Solyndra misled government to get \$535M solar project loan: report

Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer who took more than \$500 million from President Obama’s stimulus then went bust, sticking taxpayers for the loss, lied to federal officials to secure the loan, the Energy Department’s inspector general said in a report released Wednesday."

Much better to pay individual households or companies to install their own solar for their own homes, or to make block grants to towns and cities to develop small local programs.
Quoting: Lily o' the Valley

Have to agree - smaller projects - politicians and friends have quite enough of our money. Makes sense, Miss Lily!
Quoting: Pooka

The sad part, is after becoming a contributor to the grid, the electric companies offer a pittance for your electricity compared to what they charge the consumer.
Make America Strong Again
Make America Sexy Again

I'm fukken this monkey, you just shut up and hold the tail."
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77522696
Greece
04/02/2019 08:42 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
My calculations are the following:

A 270w panel is typically around 1.65 meters x 1 meter

Let's say we need 2 meters x 1.25 meters, for extra spacing.

In 2018, about 4,178 billion kilowatthours (kWh) (or 4.18 trillion kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale electricity generation facilities in the United States.

Now let's say a 270w panel, hits efficiency of around 250w on average. It produces power for, say, 13 hrs a day (for some hours it will produce less, for some it will produce more) but let's say for simplicity purposes that it only works for 9 hours @ full power, instead of sayin 7 hours full power, 1 hour at 80%, 1 hour at 70%, etc etc.

So at 9 hours x 250w x 365 days a year = 821.3kwh.

But since there will be cloudy days, let's say 600kwh per yer per 270w panel (which we assume at full load gives only 250w).

So... 4,178.000.000.000 kwh the US electricity production / 600 kw per panel = 6.96 billion panels needed to achive the same yearly output.

Now let's spread them flat on the same line at 2 meters long x 1.25 wide = 13920000000 meters x 1.25 meters, or 13920000 kilometers long x 1.25 meter wide.

If we make 1000 lines of them (parallel placing) to reduce length and exploit width, it would be 13920km long x 1.25km wide.

If we make 100000 lines of them, it would be 139,20km long x 125km wide.

If we use a bit diagonal - vertical placing, we can reduce this further.

I think the 100 sq mile number is correct. It's actually compensated upwards for extra energy production compared to what electric companies produce.
BRIEF

User ID: 39607259
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04/02/2019 08:53 AM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
My calculations are the following:

A 270w panel is typically around 1.65 meters x 1 meter

Let's say we need 2 meters x 1.25 meters, for extra spacing.

In 2018, about 4,178 billion kilowatthours (kWh) (or 4.18 trillion kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale electricity generation facilities in the United States.

Now let's say a 270w panel, hits efficiency of around 250w on average. It produces power for, say, 13 hrs a day (for some hours it will produce less, for some it will produce more) but let's say for simplicity purposes that it only works for 9 hours @ full power, instead of sayin 7 hours full power, 1 hour at 80%, 1 hour at 70%, etc etc.

So at 9 hours x 250w x 365 days a year = 821.3kwh.

But since there will be cloudy days, let's say 600kwh per yer per 270w panel (which we assume at full load gives only 250w).

So... 4,178.000.000.000 kwh the US electricity production / 600 kw per panel = 6.96 billion panels needed to achive the same yearly output.

Now let's spread them flat on the same line at 2 meters long x 1.25 wide = 13920000000 meters x 1.25 meters, or 13920000 kilometers long x 1.25 meter wide.

If we make 1000 lines of them (parallel placing) to reduce length and exploit width, it would be 13920km long x 1.25km wide.

If we make 100000 lines of them, it would be 139,20km long x 125km wide.

If we use a bit diagonal - vertical placing, we can reduce this further.

I think the 100 sq mile number is correct. It's actually compensated upwards for extra energy production compared to what electric companies produce.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77522696

No down time for maintenance is a plus too!
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Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77492469
Greece
04/02/2019 06:10 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
My calculations are the following:

A 270w panel is typically around 1.65 meters x 1 meter

Let's say we need 2 meters x 1.25 meters, for extra spacing.

In 2018, about 4,178 billion kilowatthours (kWh) (or 4.18 trillion kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale electricity generation facilities in the United States.

Now let's say a 270w panel, hits efficiency of around 250w on average. It produces power for, say, 13 hrs a day (for some hours it will produce less, for some it will produce more) but let's say for simplicity purposes that it only works for 9 hours @ full power, instead of sayin 7 hours full power, 1 hour at 80%, 1 hour at 70%, etc etc.

So at 9 hours x 250w x 365 days a year = 821.3kwh.

But since there will be cloudy days, let's say 600kwh per yer per 270w panel (which we assume at full load gives only 250w).

So... 4,178.000.000.000 kwh the US electricity production / 600 kw per panel = 6.96 billion panels needed to achive the same yearly output.

Now let's spread them flat on the same line at 2 meters long x 1.25 wide = 13920000000 meters x 1.25 meters, or 13920000 kilometers long x 1.25 meter wide.

If we make 1000 lines of them (parallel placing) to reduce length and exploit width, it would be 13920km long x 1.25km wide.

If we make 100000 lines of them, it would be 139,20km long x 125km wide.

If we use a bit diagonal - vertical placing, we can reduce this further.

I think the 100 sq mile number is correct. It's actually compensated upwards for extra energy production compared to what electric companies produce.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77522696

Not quite correct but someone who understands the calculations would know the OP meant 100 miles x 100 miles square area, which is NOT 100 square miles but 10000 square miles
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77492469
Greece
04/02/2019 07:02 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
the problem with solar power is that there is always the chance of having a streak of clouds for a week or longer. What will you do then, when you produce almost no energy?

You would have to find a method which can store the output of a week or even longer.

The easiest method would be to use electrolysis and turn water into hydrogen, then burn the hydrogen back into water whenever the sun is not shining.

I am not sure how feasible this is but from the wiki page, hydrogen production can be highly efficient if done properly.

With increasing efficiencies of solar panels combined it seems even more rational.

And why only fill 10000 square miles with solar panels and not double or triple that amount?
That way you would have overproduction and would turn the overproduction in summer times into hydrogen for cars and heating in winter times.

The manufacturing cost of a 10kw solar system is less than \$10000.

Above calculations showed that you need roughly 400 million such systems to power all of the US. That's 400 million times \$4000 = 4 Trillions

4 Trillions is peanuts for the US. Just a fraction of the debt.

Triple that and you'd end up with enough hydrogen to heat homes and fuel cars (or some hydrocarbon based fuel)

An investment which would power the US for at least 40 years on just solar panels, including fuel for cars and winter heating.

And because solar panel power plants can be scaled almost arbitrarily, one could create a solar power grid that is as immune to failing completely as the world wide grid(web). Instead of one big 30000 square miles area, you would have 3000 ten square miles(~3.3 miles x 3.3 miles) areas plastered around strategic locations with about 10-15 people per area working on maintenance. That's 30k new jobs right there.
Anonymous Coward
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Greece
04/02/2019 07:34 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
related to above

Belgian Scientists Announce New Solar Panel That Makes Hydrogen

According to Belgian news source VRT NWS, scientists at KU Leuven, located in Flanders, Belgium, say they have created a solar panel that uses sunlight to make hydrogen from the moisture in the air. It can produce up to 250 liters of hydrogen gas a day.
Quoting:

Researcher Jan Rongé adds, “Over an entire year, the panel produces an average of 250 liters per day, which is a world record. Twenty of these panels produce enough heat and electricity to get through the winter in a very well insulated house and still have electricity left over.”
Quoting:

250 liters sounds much but that's but that should be about 250*3wh = 750wh, close to 1kwh worth of energy

20 such panels would mean 15-20 kwh worth of hydrogen per day which isn'T bad at all. About the equivalent of 2 liters of diesel fuel.
Over the year, you accumulate close to 700-800 liters of diesel fuel basically which is enough to heat an energy efficient house over winter times.

Triple the panels and you have also enough hydrogen to drive your hydrogen car and heat your home plus enough to power your home and your generator for night time or cloudy days, all from turning moisture in the air into hydrogen via solar panels.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 73112757
United States
04/02/2019 07:48 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
this is from elon musk
ok
so once he makes one thing that works I'll take him seriously

wheres hiper loop ?
those big trucks electrical powered?
top of the car solar ?
cars dont work up north, too cold
oh, and good luck with across country road trip
recharge takes hours

wonderboy is shuffling too many things at same time
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57897053

Umm you forgot about SpaceX. His company that is doing things no other private rocket launch company can do!

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77492469
Greece
04/02/2019 08:11 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
also related

turning hydrogen into ammonia

Ammonia (NH3) is key to enabling a solar hydrogen (H2) future, says a prominent Australian researcher.

Solar energy could be stored, bottled and shipped globally in existing ammonia infrastructure as a zero carbon liquid fuel, according to Keith Lovegrove, the author or co-author of over 170 research papers and technical reports.
Quoting:

But he said that a molecule that actually packs in more hydrogen than hydrogen (H2), holds the greatest potential to unleash a clean hydrogen economy. Ammonia (NH3) bonds together 1 nitrogen atom but 3 hydrogen atoms. "Amazingly enough, there's a greater mass of hydrogen in a liter of liquid ammonia than there is in a liter of liquid hydrogen," Lovegrove explained. "It's counterintuitive, but ammonia is just a better molecule at packing together with itself."
Quoting:

Interestingly enough, the percentage of ammonia in our "everyday" air we breath in is over 70%, making up the majority.

The question then would be, if those Belgian researchers which turn moisture in the air into hydrogen, could take this one step further and and turn that hydrogen into ammonia by combining it with the nitrogen in the air.
Just a thought.. no clue if that would be feasible. It certainly would take away some of the problems with storing and transporting hydrogen in its pure form.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77492469
Greece
04/02/2019 08:12 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
^correction to above: percentage of nitrogen (not ammonia) in the air is over 70%
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 53140664
04/02/2019 08:23 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
^correction to above: percentage of nitrogen (not ammonia) in the air is over 70%
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77492469

and people pay to fill their tires with nitrogen

User ID: 77416429
United States
04/02/2019 08:43 PM

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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
“If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States,”

“The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile.”

It’s “a little square on the U.S. map, and then there’s a little pixel inside there, and that’s the size of the battery park that you need to support that. Real tiny.”

If this were spread over the United States connected by a power grid sounds doable and not very intrusive, the panels also being on top of building roofs.. What we waiting for?
Quoting: norakat147

Simple...it's BS.....
Ask Alice when she's 10ft tall
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77522696
Greece
04/03/2019 06:58 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
the problem with solar power is that there is always the chance of having a streak of clouds for a week or longer. What will you do then, when you produce almost no energy?

You would have to find a method which can store the output of a week or even longer.

The easiest method would be to use electrolysis and turn water into hydrogen, then burn the hydrogen back into water whenever the sun is not shining.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77492469

In rainy days (heavy cloud cover), solar panel output is around 25% - it doesn't really fall to zero. Additional storage requirements can be reduced or eliminated to cover for that contingency if the number of panels is increased to 2x-4x.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77144835
04/03/2019 07:42 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
Probably an excellent way to burn a hole in the ozone.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77144835
04/03/2019 07:45 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
Probably an excellent way to burn a hole in the ozone.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77144835

...and Take down satellites, airplanes, kill birds, bees, bugs, disrupt radio signals.

A fucking dead zone extending thousands of miles into space.

Gee, what great idea!
hillbilly

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04/03/2019 07:46 AM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
Solid fuel rockets cause the holes, not freon.
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Anonymous Coward
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Greece
04/03/2019 02:26 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
the problem with solar power is that there is always the chance of having a streak of clouds for a week or longer. What will you do then, when you produce almost no energy?

You would have to find a method which can store the output of a week or even longer.

The easiest method would be to use electrolysis and turn water into hydrogen, then burn the hydrogen back into water whenever the sun is not shining.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77492469

In rainy days (heavy cloud cover), solar panel output is around 25% - it doesn't really fall to zero. Additional storage requirements can be reduced or eliminated to cover for that contingency if the number of panels is increased to 2x-4x.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77522696

Not my experience, having a 10kw system on my roof. There are rainy days with heavy clouds the system will produce less than 10% of its normal output. I had two days in december where i only got 2kwh vs 20-25kwh when the sky was very clear.

While unlikely to get a whole week of such cloudy days, it is not impossible and you have to have some method to account for such cases.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1712129
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04/03/2019 02:35 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
The solar system at the federal center will pay for itself after 50 years.

How long do solar panels generally last?
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 77522696
Greece
04/03/2019 04:40 PM
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Re: Only 100 square miles of solar panels are required to power the entire United States
the problem with solar power is that there is always the chance of having a streak of clouds for a week or longer. What will you do then, when you produce almost no energy?

You would have to find a method which can store the output of a week or even longer.

The easiest method would be to use electrolysis and turn water into hydrogen, then burn the hydrogen back into water whenever the sun is not shining.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77492469

In rainy days (heavy cloud cover), solar panel output is around 25% - it doesn't really fall to zero. Additional storage requirements can be reduced or eliminated to cover for that contingency if the number of panels is increased to 2x-4x.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77522696

Not my experience, having a 10kw system on my roof. There are rainy days with heavy clouds the system will produce less than 10% of its normal output. I had two days in december where i only got 2kwh vs 20-25kwh when the sky was very clear.

While unlikely to get a whole week of such cloudy days, it is not impossible and you have to have some method to account for such cases.
Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77492469

Hmm... I've seen measurements at ~24% with rain falling in the spring, but then again I'm in Greece, so it's more sunny here I guess...
Regal Beast

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04/03/2019 11:41 PM
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