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This post was prompted by this image from digg showing how much area of the world we would have to cover with solar or wind power to power the world:
I have a big problem with this image because I recently did a calculation on how much space we would need to power the entire US with solar power and came up with a VASTLY different conclusion. From my understanding solar and wind power honestly don't produce that much power and are more expensive. I'm not saying we should try to use green energy I'm just saying it might take a combination of lots of different sources to get even close to the power we get out of coal. I also think in the interim(next 25-50 years) we could use nuclear power to make up the difference while cutting back CO2 and only producing about 3 cubic meters of spent fuel waste per year.
Note the original calculation and assumption were wrong because I had the US area off by a few orders of magnitude thus I think the above map is close to right and this thread may just need to be locked/deleted.
Can someone check my calculation here and see if I'm doing something wrong or making an incorrect assumption(I could be fucking something up with MWh and MW):
The largest (thermal) solar array in the US is from Solar Energy Generating Systems and has a capacity of 354MW and takes up 561 acres of land. For reference the average coal power plant has a capacity of ~600+MW and nuclear power plants produce in the range of 600-1200+ MW.
The US had an average total power consumption of 3.34TW in 2005 or 3,340,000MW of power.
Thus I did a simple calculation 354MW/561acres = 3,340,000MW/ X acres.
x = 5,293,050 acres.
For reference the US is roughly 2.428 [strike]million[/strike] billion acres.
While I haven't done as much research it seems like wind power has similar issues.
I did another check adding up the average gross power production in MWh rather than using the plant's capacity in MW from SEGS = 654,000 MWh
and the total US consumption of BTu's from this EIA = 29,730,124,000 MWh
so 654,000Wh/561 acres = 29,730,124,000MWh/x
x= 25 million acres [strike](or an order of magnitude larger than the area of the US)[/strike] (or 1% of the area US)
This discrepency could be from the fact that the plants capacity is 354MW but the wiki says it produces 75MWe or a capacity factor of 21%
Edit2: corrected the above from Feral's comment below.
No, I am not really communist. Yes, it is weird that I use this name.