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Clean Power power of solar power infographic

Published on October 26th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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The Power of.. Solar Power (Infographic)



A small solar installer in Maryland, solargaines, provided me with this interesting solar power infographic yesterday. Definitely thought is was worth sharing. Of course, this is all about solar power, in general. If you’re actually interested in the cost of solar panels in Maryland, you can check out their site. [No, I'm not getting anything for this,... in case you were wondering.]

Maryland Solar Panels

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Richard Coombie

    Ok! Ok people, do we go for solar power or not. Just a straight yes or no will do.

  • Anonymous

    I tried to use the “Contact us” on your website, but got

    “There has been an error: ERROR: Code injection attempt denied! Please don’t use the following sequences in your message: ‘TO:’, ‘CC:’, ‘CCO:’ or ‘Content-Type’.”

    “The sun strikes every square meter of our planet with more than 1,360 watts of power”

    The sun strikes the cross-section of the planet with that power. Since the Earth is a sphere, divide by 4. (pi r^2 vs. 4pi r^2)

    “terrawatts” should be terawatts.

    “17 gigawatts is equivalent to 17 nuclear power plants”

    With a capacity factor of 10-30%, 17 GW of solar PV is equivalent to ~4 1-GW nuclear reactors, or ~2 two-reactor nuclear plants.

    “Solar panels are made of Silicone which is just melted sand.”

    Solar panels are made of silicon; the processing of which is a bit more involved.

    “The amount of energy we receive from the sun in one day is:
    1.5 x 10 the 22 power Joules
    translates to:
    4.6 quadrillion kW/h
    which looks like this:
    4,166,666,667,000,000
    (4.16 quadrillion)
    At $.015 per kw/H that is worth:
    $625,000,000,000,000″

    1.5 e22 J = 1.5 e22 J / 3600 s/h = 4.17 e15 kW-h of thermal energy.
    If that were electrical energy,
    4.17 e15 kW(e)-h * 0.15 $/kW-h = $625 e12.

    But 89 PW * 3600 s/h * 24 h = 7.7 e21 J of heat = 2.14 e15 kW(th)-h
    ~~> 3.2 e14 kW(e)-h at 15% efficiency
    ~~> $48 e12 at 0.15 $/kW-h

    • Jamie Vaughn

      I’m glad Bill Woods has such a sharp eye. I had only caught the error: “solar panels are made of Silicon which is just melted sand.”

      That’s incorrect, as Bill pointed out. You could say “solar panels are made of silicon which is just chemically reduced sand.”

      That is to say that sand is silicon dioxide, while solar panels are (almost) pure silicon. There’s a drastic difference in processing to simply melt sand compared to removing those two oxygen atoms from the silicon in sand.

  • http://twitter.com/SkellyElectric Skelly Electric, Inc

    Great infographic about the power of solar!

  • California

    Pretty graphic, needs a proof-reader. Fake boobs are made of silicone. Solar panels and sand are silicon.

  • Anonymous

    Lot of errors in there. For instance,

    “17 gigawatts produces 224,400,000,000 kW/h [224.4 TW-h] of energy …”

    17 GW = 17 GW * 8766 h/yr = 149 TW-h per year.
    I can’t figure out how they got a bigger number. 224.4 / 17 = 13.2, but what’s that?
    For 17 GW of solar, multiply by the capacity factor.

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