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UK could power itself on solar energy using just 12 percent of its land

16 May 2018- Price comparison site has released a new analysis into the potential of solar energy power, revealing that almost nine out of 10 (87 percent) of the 147 countries surveyed could power themselves on less than 5 percent of their land.

However due to the UK’s energy consumption and more limited access to sunlight, it would require 12.3 percent of its land to host enough solar panels to power the nation (29,690 km²).

Compared to its European counterparts the UK requires more than triple the amount of land than Italy (3.7 percent), France (2.4 percent) or Spain (1.6 percent), due to the amount of energy the nation uses at 372 GW.

Canada and Iran have the most similar energy consumption to the UK, using 366GW and 386GW respectively. However as both countries receive much more sunlight, the solar panel area required for each is much less than the UK. Canada would require 19 percent less solar panel-encompassed land (24,010 km²) and Iran 41 percent less than the UK (17,620 km²).

CountryEnergy consumption (GW)Compared to UKCountry area (km^2)Compared to UK


CountryEnergy consumption (GW)Energy consumption, compared to UKArea of solar panels needed (km^2)Area of solar panels needed, compared to UK
Saudi Arabia387104%14,41049%

Globally there are only three countries that need more solar panel capacity than they have land, including Singapore (830 percent), Hong Kong (213 percent) and Bahrain (156 percent). Singapore and Hong Kong are well known as two of the most urbanised places in the world, meaning the demand for energy will far outweigh the land area available. Bahrain is just 800 square kilometres and densely populated, resulting in more space needed for solar panels than it has.

China requires 1,709GW more solar panel capacity to power the country

China was the biggest investor in renewable energy last year, and despite contributing more than half of the world’s solar energy capacity* (53GW), the country requires an additional 1,709GW of solar power energy in order to power the nation. has estimated that the area of land required would make up 1.1 percent of land in China (106,200 km²) to produce 1,762GW, compared to the 372GW that is consumed in the UK.

In total, an estimated 1.1 million square kilometres of solar panels would be needed to power the whole Earth, almost the size of South Africa.

The study took into account the amount of sunlight per country and the amount of energy each nation uses.

The full analysis, complete with an interactive map and data tables, can be found here:

Jon Ostler, UK CEO at said: “With the UN announcing that the global investment in renewable energy surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time this year, it’s inspiring to see that many countries are already adapting this practice. Aside from the environmental benefits, solar energy is becoming increasingly efficient as the technology advances, therefore the cost of installing solar panels will pay for itself over time as your energy bills are reduced. For instance in the UK if your solar power generates more energy than you actually use, you may be credited the excess under the feed-in tariffs scheme. It’s worth comparing renewable energy providers to see how your current deal weighs up – solar or otherwise – so that you can save money while also helping to save the planet.”


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