How Many Solar Panels to Power the United States?

With the number of technological advancements in renewable energy, it’s not long till we are all living on a solar-powered grid. Not only is solar power easier to produce, but according to an MIT research study, the technology has become more efficient than ever, which makes it feasible to produce solar power.

Eventually, we might be looking at entire regions powered by solar energy, and here’s how. Many solar panels to power the United States will lead to more solar farms, which greatly improve our environment.

How Many Solar Panels Would it Take to Power the United States?

The United States used around 3.8 trillion kWh of power in 2020, with the greatest energy consumption coming from heating and cooling equipment. However, the figure in 2020 was lesser than in previous years since many business activities ceased during the lockdown period owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

How Many Solar Panels to Power the United States

To keep the United States running, we would need at least 7.86 billion solar panels. While this number seems outrageous, we must remember that so is the energy consumption in the US. If everyone on the planet used as much energy as us, natural reserves would deplete in 9 years.

On the bright side, American homes use up a significant amount of energy. If we install solar panels on every roof, we can achieve around 34% of power generation using renewable power. As of today, solar power meets around 3% of the US’s energy requirements.

How Accurate is Our Estimate?

We would say that our estimate aligns with experts working on renewable energy. Owner of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, stated that a small corner of Texas or Utah can generate enough solar power to meet the US’s power needs.

An area of 100 x 100 miles is needed, and an average of 4 hours of full sunshine would ensure the best results. Therefore, these regions are perfect since there have large open areas and experience plenty of direct sunshine.

How Many Solar Panels Replace a Power Plant?

Conventional power plants are smaller than renewable plants since combustion doesn’t require any significant space. To generate 1,000 megawatts of power, you need 3 million solar panels.

Factors to Consider

Solar panels do not work all day, and they might produce lesser power when it is cloudy outside. The good thing is that solar panels won’t ever reach zero output during these weather conditions, and a good rain shower can improve their efficiency by washing off dust.

Another thing to remember is solar panels have an average life of 20 years. So while they don’t lose functionality, the cells lose efficiency with time that causes their electrical output to decrease.

Solar powers come in different sizes and with different efficiency ratings. The more efficient a solar panel is, the greater it costs. Although larger solar panels cost more, it is more feasible to install them for large-scale operation because they have a lower cost per watt, leading to economies of scale.

Why Solar?

The US is inevitably moving towards renewable power generation. With environmental concerns over our ever-growing power needs, many people have started installing solar panels on their roofs to power their homes and cut down power bills.

The Cryptocurrency Bubble

If you’re wondering how big the energy crisis is, then think about cryptocurrency. The mining process requires hardware such as computer graphics processors, which contribute negatively to the environment as most of them end up in landfills.

However, many countries are shutting down crypto mining operations due to energy consumption. Bitcoin currency alone consumes the same amount of power that a small country does annually. Therefore, many believe that the urgency in establishing renewable energy plants is a by-product of the need to make crypto mining more feasible.

Other Energy Sources

Solar power is one of the most abundant and scalable sources of energy. Solar farms are cheaper to install and maintain than wind turbines. Over 10,000 times of the world’s power needs hits the earth’s surface in the form of solar energy. Harnessing this power can reduce our carbon footprint and save non-renewable energy sources.

While wind turbines are more efficient and can operate all day, they also produce around 100 decibels of sound. Think of the amount of noise that many wind turbines operating simultaneously generate compared to the soundless operation solar panels offer.

On the other hand, hydropower is not feasible because of the lack of clean water. Furthermore, setting up and generating this power involves destroying wildlife and increases the risk of polluting the water.

How Far is a Solar Future?

While it might seem impractical, the US is going solar, and it won’t be long before it does. If we look at trends in the auto sector, a few years ago, electric vehicles seemed like an unattainable future. However, as more brands are catching on to the technology, EVs are becoming better and more affordable.

Similarly, the photovoltaic technology in solar cells has greatly improved. As a result, not only are modern solar cells more efficient, but they are also cheaper.

The growing number of solar projects in the US and privately-held solar farms are increasing in number over the years. While the process seems slow, it won’t be long before solar projects lead to more green energy and increase jobs in the sector.

Government Initiatives

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the US government has authorized several solar projects. Within the next 5 years, there will be a total of 237 projects worth over $58 billion.

Projects with a capacity of around 1,052 megawatts have or will start in 2021 to contribute to a greener future.

Our Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, while the number of solar panels to power the US might seem absurd, we are inching closer to that figure every day. While some people are hesitant about the switch to green power, there is nothing to worry about.

The power from solar energy is indistinguishable from what you get on the grid, and the odds are that you have already consumed renewable energy. Knowing how many solar panels to power the United States is great if you want to track the progress of solar power.

About The Author