I’ve often wondered how much land it would take to power the entire electrical grid for the United States. While using solar power would be cleaner, powering such a grid as the United States would be impractical with today’s solar technology.
The space in terms of square feet to power ratio between solar and nuclear power is roughly 400 fold. It takes 400 times more square feet using solar panels than with the smallest nuclear reactors that have been built so far.
The amount of land needed for nuclear power plants and the mines to produce the fuel, compared to lands required to produce the same power with solar powers is not even comparable. You can’t even see the nuclear footprint when displayed on a map. In other words, the nuclear reactor land requirement and the mines to produce the fuel take up just a small, nearly invisible fraction of land compared to what solar power would require in terms of land needed.
You think it’s bad when the government takes away land for pipelines? It will be way worse when they take land for solar power.
• 1 solar panel can produce 1kWh of sustained electricity during sunlight operations in 1 day.
• 1000sq feet (57 solar panels) can generate 57kWh of sustained electricity during sunlight operations in 1 day.
• The smallest nuclear reactor in the United States is in New York and can generate 13,968,000kWh running at full capacity for 1 day and takes up about 3,100,000 sq feet of space or 4,505kWh per 1000sq feet of space.
• It would take 245,052,000sq feet of solar panels to generate the same electricity as the smallest reactor in New York.
• 20% of the electricity in the USA is generated by nuclear power. Assuming all reactors were of the smallest size like in New York, the total kWh would be 1,368,864,000kWh in 303,800,000 sq feet of land.
• 120,075,480,000 sq feet (2,756,553 acres) of land would be needed to generate near 100% total power consumption with solar panels as compared to 15,500,000 for nuclear power plants.
• The total land needed to mine uranium fuel (U308) is a faction of the total land used by solar panels and you couldn’t even see it on the map.
A zoomed out view.
Some interesting information on solar panels.
• “Fabricating the panels requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid, and the process uses water as well as electricity, the production of which emits greenhouse gases.” -nationalgeographic.com
• “Study: Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants.” -http://environmentalprogress.org