Total Surface Area Required to Fuel the World (until 2030)

According to the US Department of Energy (Energy Information Administration), the world consumption of energy in all of its forms (barrels of petroleum, cubic meters of natural gas, watts of hydro power, etc.) is projected to reach 678 quadrillion Btu by 2030 – a 44% increase over 2008 levels. That’s a lot of energy. Saw this really interesting article that tries to project the total surface area required to fuel that 2030 world with ONLY SOLAR PANELS!

Below is a surprisingly sparse diagram. It’s kind of amazing to me how small the little squares are! Makes me think solar panel production companies would be a good thing to invest in! Germany, Japan and China seem to be in a really good place to reap the rewards of forward thinking… and dare I say it… socialistic government subsidies and legislation? Maybe a little socialism sprinkled on top isn’t the end of the world?… maybe it’s even the beginning of brave new world? Oh I’m sorry, government help in an industry is the wrong way to go… you might as well hand the country over to the pinko commies! Oh wait, what would you call the help we’ve been giving the corn / high-fructose / ethanol industries for the last 30 years? How about the auto industry? Savings and Loans? How about the financing industry in the last 2-3 years? Oh yeah, and what about that pesky military industrial complex our tax dollars have been funding? …so confused…ARGGG…don’t know who to hate…RRRARR…tree huggers…socialists…bankers…farmers… FOX News can you help me find a target for my rage?
Area Required to Power the World by Solar ONLY

And things don’t look quite as easy for wind turbines:
Area Required to Power the World with Wind Only

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2 Comments

Craig Schlanser

September 16th, 2009

I always knew you were a closet socialist!

Dave

September 16th, 2009

Well… I don’t think I’ve ever been in the closet about anything! But as for being a socialist? Defining what that means in today’s world is a pretty big discussion. I would go so far as to say I don’t think it’s a bad word like FOX likes to lambaste. In controlled doses, it seems that it can be useful in protecting our citizens. In creating safety nets so no group falls so low as to create social unrest. I’d say that Communism is obviously a failed concept, and I’m certainly not a supporter of completely unfettered capitalism either… a quick look at the financial news of the last couple years is reason enough for that. Big corporations are obviously not concerned with the well being of even their own employees most of the time, (see Enron) let alone their customers or the American citizenry at large. All most public corporations care about are the 24-hour news cycle, their stock prices, and how to spin problems or scandals into promotion using their PR teams. Is that who we want protecting our children and our future? Faceless corporations?

I mean, in my mind, part of the government’s purpose is to institute basic protections for it’s citizens from being exploited or harmed… whether it’s from a fire breaking out in their home, a drug addict breaking into their house to steal things to feed their addiction, a corporation using mercury to process it’s high-fructose corn syrup, or other countries zooming ahead of us in vital energy technologies.

If we can send over 30,000 of our soldiers over to die in Iraq to protect the illusion of semi-stable oil prices, and we can subsidize agribusiness’ corn production for ethanol, why can’t we give American solar-panel producers some help in R&D’ing cheaper production methods? Don’t we want to get off our oil addiction? Is a little socialistic help such a bad thing to level the playing ground with Germany and China?

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