Re: photochemical advance

From: S.J. Van Sickle (
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 15:33:52 MST

More handwaving math:

The Statistical Abstract lists "non-utility" solar installation as 385
megawatts installed capacity. Since this is "non-utility", I'll assume
that it's a wide variety of locations and types, many possibly
non-optimal. This capacity generated 887 million kilowatt/hours, or about
2300 kw/hrs per year per kilowatt installed capacity. At 30,000 kw/hr per
year per person, this works out to about 13 kw installed capacity, which
according to the worksheet at

is almost exactly 100 square meters of panel (to be exact, 270 PV165
modules at a cost of $79,650).

This would mean 1 square kilometer would support 10,000 people for all
energy usage, or 300 million people in the US would require 30,000 square
kilometers of panel. This is about 0.3% of the coverage of the United
States, or 10% of the State of Arizona, or less than 5% of Texas. Or less
than 8% of the total developed land (~380,000 km^2) in the US. Or about
2.25% of US cropland.

Or, with a nod to Eric Drexler, about the same as the 6.25 million
kilometers of road in the US, assuming an average width of 5 meters.

I don't think land or the aesthetics of land use will be a significant
barrier to the adoption of solar power. Price, and its intermittant
nature, are much more serious problems. If price dropped about an order
of magnitude, though, I think it could become very attractive for a lot of
uses (including residential). Personally, I think that solar and nuclear
power complement each other well.


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