Across France this is around 11gigawatts, or over the year almost 10 terawatt hours of electricity generation per year. This is a very sensible idea, as it is a second use of the land.
In the south of England, there are now 2000 panels placed over car parking spaces. These offer a capacity of almost 1MW hour. Each parking space covered, has a capacity of about 2kw. In the UK, the countries target of solar by 2030 is to have 40gw of solar capacity, up from 15gw currently. It is estimated, that almost half the remaining target would be met by carpark roofing – which suggests that we could hit far more than 40gw of solar.
I wrote a short time ago about the solar area needed to power the world. As a result, I was fascinated to find this article from a few months ago.
On the vast majority of rooftops, nothing is done with this space. Covering the half of these roofs that face the right way, with solar panels, would be able to power the world.
This would have another advantage. If the whole world was solar powered, and we connected all countries around the world, then batteries could be unnecessary – Europe could power America and Australia during the night, and they could return the favour during our night.
The UK has been very foolish, but greatly increasing the price of Solar. This must be reversed to not put off the Solar roll out.
The sun sends 470 exajoules of energy to the earth every 88 minutes. This is how much energy the earth uses each year. If we captured just 1% of the sun’s energy this would still give a 6 times more electricity than we need.
In a similar vein, if wind turbines collected just 20% of the wind energy on earth this would be 8 times what the entire world uses each year.
In terms of area, to generate all the power that the earth needs (using current efficiency) we would need roughly 1 million square km or about 11% of the Sahara desert. Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but it shows that the world is more than capable of running on clean energy.
The energy is there to be used, we just need to undertake it at speed. Vested interests in fossil fuel companies have fought aggressively against this move for decades. Their time must be over, the world can and must clean up its act.
President Carter installed 32 solar thermal panels on the white house 30 years ago. By 1986 Jimmy Carter had been replaced by Ronald Reagan – and unfortunately his priorities were different. He scrapped the research and development budget for renewables and eliminated any tax breaks that were encouraging deployment of solar or wind turbines.
When the white house had to have its roof fixed, Reagan used this as an excuse to remove the solar panels, despite the fact that they were still working fine.
If we are to be able to continue to live on planet Earth we are going to need to stop releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is unfortunate that at the current time, this simple fact is not looked on as a fact by some of the big world leaders.
One of the difficult things to look at is that some of the publicised success the UK has had in the last couple of decades is false. When looking carefully you can see that we have exported the emissions, by having things manufactured in India or China for example. This makes it clear that much of the pressure on manufacturers must come from consumers rather than governments. Continue reading “Greening the western lifestyle”