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Solar panel statistics: How many are needed to power the world?
Discover key information on solar panels, including how many are needed to power your home, the UK, Europe and the world.
Given the rising cost of electricity in the UK many consumers may be tempted to turn to solar power, in an effort to power their home. The initial
Finder compiled the most relevant information on solar power in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
- The average home in the UK would need around 9.2m² of solar panels to satisfy its yearly electricity demands, estimated at 2,900kWh.
- The cost of solar panels to power the average home in the UK is around £2,588, the initial investment would be made up in less than 4 years by saving on electricity prices.
- The UK would need around 980km² to satisfy its electricity needs, roughly 0.41% the total land area.
- The world would need around 85,894km² of solar panels, roughly equal to the size of Hungary or the US state of Indiana to satisfy its yearly electricity demand.
How many solar panels do I need?
The average home in the UK would need around 9.2m² of solar panels to satisfy its yearly electricity demands, estimated at 2,900kWh. This figure was calculated using the UK average solar radiation per year, but solar panels may not be able to power the home during cloudy periods, or during the nighttime.
Are solar panels worth it?
Barring installation charges, the average home in the UK would need to spend an estimated £2,588, in order to cover its yearly electricity demand of 2,900kWh. Given the average electricity price of 34p/kWh, the initial investment would be repaid in free electricity, in less than 4 years.
Installing additional solar panels would speed up the process, since extra electricity generated is sold back to the grid at 6p–9p/kWh.
How many solar panels are needed to power the UK?
The UK would need around 980km² to satisfy its electricity needs, roughly 0.41% the total land area. Considering just 6% of the UK is currently built on it may well be possible, but it would represent a significant investment.
How many solar panels are needed to power Europe?
Most countries in Europe would be able to satisfy their electricity needs with less than 1% of their total land area being devoted to solar power.
Belgium has the highest ratio of solar panel area to total land area needed to power its electricity demand, requiring 363km² or about 1.20% of its total land area. Bulgaria would only need to cover 0.04% of its land to satisfy its electricity demands amounting to 217km².
How many solar panels are needed to power the world?
The world would need around 85,894km² of solar panels, roughly equal to the size of Hungary or the US state of Indiana, to satisfy its yearly energy demands. According to the International Energy Agency the world consumed around 22,848TWh in electricity in 2019.
Below is a list of each country on earth with the land area of solar panels and the percentage of the total land area of that country:
|Country||Area of solar panels in km2||Percentage of total land|
|United Arab Emirates||340.62||0.48%|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||39.71||0.08%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||43.86||0.86%|
|Papua New Guinea||9.80||0.00%|
|Republic of the Congo||3.51||0.00%|
|Antigua and Barbuda||0.96||0.22%|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||1.07||0.41%|
|Central African Republic||1.09||0.00%|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||0.56||0.14%|
|Sao Tome and Principe||0.18||0.02%|
MethodologyThe area of solar panels required was calculated from equation
E = A * r * H * PR
- For energy (E), we summed the countries’ electricity, natural gas and refined petroleum products consumption according to the CIA World.
- For solar panel efficiency (r) and performance ratio (PR) we used the default values suggested by photovoltaic-software.com.
- For annual average solar radiation (H), we averaged the total yearly values given for each country in OpenSolarDB.
- Countries for which either the World Factbook or OpenSolarDB didn’t have data were left out of the analysis.
The total area needed to power the world was estimated by finding the average area needed for a country, and multiplying it by the total number of countries (195).
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