Shine the Light

A shining sun brings smiles to the faces of most people who wake up and see it in the morning. It’s a harbinger of good times for the day ahead. It warms us. It grows our plants. And it’s now directly powering our machines. The Sun is our friend.

China has the largest installed base of solar power at 43.2TWh. A truly amazing amount. China’s annual energy consumption is about 36065 TWh. A representative solar production is 2.3GWh per square kilometre which would thus require China to allocate 15.7 million square kilometres or 1.6 thousand million hectares to get all their power from solar. China has about 1000 million hectares of land area with about 72% already being allocated. Where will they get all that they need? Total primary energy used by humans on Earth in 2012 amounted to 155 505TWh. Using the same metric means this would require over 13% of all of Earth’s land area to be used for solar power plants. Does the Earth really have that much area to spare for solar power?

Our Sun, that amazing star so nearby, allures us ever on to greater feats. Can we rely solely upon it to keep us alive and to power our technology? Time will tell.

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