Solar panels are one of the cleanest and most environmentally-friendly means of powering the stuff we use every day. That said, could we ever power the entire planet purely by harnessing solar energy? The short answer is yes.
Estimates suggest that energy usage will reach about 678 quadrillion-BTU or 199 trillion kilowatt-hours by 2030. With this rough estimate, and the understanding that a square foot polar paneling yields at least 37 kilowatt-hours of energy, this means that it would take 191,817 square miles of land covered in solar panel arrays to power the entire planet in 2030. Believe it or not, that’s equivalent to a landmass about the same size as Spain.
These estimates are based upon modern solar panel capabilities, but it’s important to remember that technology improves with time. Solar panels are expected to become more efficient, so the amount of land required for solar arrays to power the world should proportionately shrink as the technology improves.
So move over power plants, let’s power the planet with the energy emitted by the Sun.