America is the second-largest consumer of electricity, behind China. The USA alone has consumed over 4000 terawatt hours in 2019. Although powering the whole of America with solar panels is difficult, it can be done. So, how many solar panels would you need to power the United States? How much area and money is necessary for that endeavor? Read on if you want to understand what it takes to power a country as big as the USA using only solar panels.
How Many Solar Panels Would You Need to Power the United States
Americans consume about 4,000 billion kWh of electricity per year. That means each person in America uses as much as 12,000 kWh in a year. This fact can cause serious problems, as there simply isn’t enough oil left in the world to support energy consumption that high. However, if done right solar power can sustain the energy needs of each American without any issues. So, how many solar panels would you need to power the United States completely?
To determine how many solar panels America needs, we need to take into account two things. Firstly, we have to look at how much energy one American spends in a day. Since each person spends about 12000 kWh per year, that means they spend about 33 kWh per day. Secondly, we should look at how much energy one solar panel can produce in a day. Nowadays, domestic solar panel systems can deliver about 1-4 kW of electricity per hour. However, due to the day-night cycle of the Sun, solar panels don’t produce energy 24/7.
In America, there’s full sunshine anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 hours per day, with 4 being the national average. That means the solar panels will need to produce about 33 kWh power in those 4 hours. Therefore, 3–9 domestic solar panel systems are necessary per person. Alternatively, if you take into account the 4,000 billion kWh the whole US population spends in a year and divide it by the days in a year and the average duration of daylight, you get 2,750 million kilowatts. That’s how much power solar panels have to produce each hour for the whole United States. Therefore, about 7.85 billion individual solar panels, each providing about 350W per hour, are necessary to power the whole USA.
The Cost and Area Required
You now know how many solar panels you would need to power the United States. However, you may be wondering if there is a place in the US where we can fit over 7 billion solar panels. The answer is no, but covering one large area with solar panels is neither necessary nor optimal.
The east coast’s full sun hours are three hours before the west coast’s. If we were to put solar panels in one large area only, we would miss out on the majority of peak sun hours. That’s why it’s much wiser to put smaller batches of solar panels all across the USA.
But, won’t that endeavor cost too much? Not necessarily. The installation costs of
solar panels have plummeted over the last few years, and you can now install panels for your home without breaking the bank. However, the nationwide cost of going fully solar in America would cost around 23 billion dollars, or even more. It takes someone with a vision and enough money to make powering the US with solar panels a reality.
How many solar panels would you need to power the United States? Too many to do it by yourself. However, you can start by installing solar panels in your home. Doing so will help reduce oil waste, and it will aid in making the world a better, healthier place. Additionally, it will help you cut down on the costs of electricity in your home.