I finally got so tired of hearing people say, “We would need to pave over an entire state with solar panels to generate enough electricity for the US.” that I decided to do the math myself.
Feel free to watch the video and check my math below. If I got something wrong the let me know!
Total US energy consumption in 2019 = 100,165,395,000,000,000 BTUs. Source
100,165,395,000,000,000 BTUs = 29,374,016,129,032,300 Watts. Source
US electricity consumption in 2019 = 37,100,000,000,000,000 BTUs. Source
37,100,000,000,000,000 BTUs = 10,879,765,395,894,400 Watts. Source
How many Watts can a residential solar panel produce per hour: 320. Source
Average hours of sunlight in the US per year: 2440. Source
Total Watts produced by a solar panel in 1 year: 320 x 2440 = 780,800 Watts
How large is a solar panel: 5.4 ft x 3.25 ft = 17.6 SqFt Source
How many solar panels to replace electricity consumption: 10,879,765,395,894,400 / 780,800 = 13,934,125,763
Total SqFt required to replace electricity consumption: 13,934,125,763 x 17.6 = 245,240,613,432 SqFt or 8,797 SqMi
How many solar panels to replace all energy consumption: 29,374,016,129,032,300 / 780,800 = 37,620,410,001
Total SqFt required to replace all energy consumption: 37,620,410,001 x 17.6 = 662,119,216,023 SqFt or 23,750 SqMi
Required SqMi per State: 23,750 / 50 = 475
Required SqFt per person: 662,119,216,023 / 328,200,000 = 2,017 Source