Solving the “Solar Takes Too Much Space” Issue

In general you hear about two downsides to solar: intermittent nature and the space required. The intermittent nature is being solved by adding battery storage to the grid. Let’s talk about the space issue.

First, the area needed has continued to decrease as solar cells have become more efficient. Today you can get around 2400 watt hours per square meter each day from PV arrays. In a previous post I talked about covering irrigation canals and resevoirs with solar panels. That’s a good start. In those cases you are helping the existing infrastructure (e.g., decreasing evaporation) without using any more area.

Here is another idea. While we have tended to say that unclear power is more space efficient than any other power generation method that ignores the space needed to support the power plants themselves. The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to start covering some of that land — from areas used for development of nuclear power (and nuclear bombs) to ex-test sites with solar. Land that is typically in areas with lots of sun and where no one wants to live. The Electric Viking tells the story.

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