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Clean Power solar energy potential

Published on April 18th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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“In 14 and a half seconds, the sun provides as much energy to Earth as humanity uses in a day.”



 
Our quick post the other day on a fun image noting that deserts receive more energy from the sun in 6 hours than humankind consumes within a year was quite popular, as was Vote Solar’s witty solar energy spill billboard, so I figure you might also like the image above that the Australian Youth Climate Coalition dropped on the CleanTechnica ‘timeline’ on Facebook. As it notes, in 14 and a half seconds, the sun provides as much energy to Earth as humanity uses in a day.

It reminds me of this next image, which I am fond of sharing, that shows annual renewable energy potential compared to the total energy potential of finite energy resources:

solar energy

"Comparing finite and renewable planetary energy reserves (Terawatt‐years). Total recoverable reserves are shown for the finite resources. Yearly potential is shown for the renewables." (source: Perez & Perez, 2009a)

In other words, people who say we don’t have space to power the world with renewable energy are off their bloody rocker.

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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.



  • http://www.energyquicksand.com/ Edward Kerr

    For some really cool info-graphics and insight into the “solar’ potential a look at this video of a lecture (don’t worry it’s a TED and only 13min) by Joe Jordan (a real scientist) is in order. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1y2wll2Ve8 Enjoy…
    Ed

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks, will check that out!

  • Richie

    Average annual growth of energy consumption is 2.6% (since 1966, BP statistical review, not including wood localy used for fire).
    At this rate, the “small” 16TWy/y we use will become a whopping 24,000 TWy/y in 285 years.

    More than what the Sun gives.

    And thermodymadics tell that we will boil in the co-generated heat.

    Cutting down our energy use is imperative (by 3 to 10 times for OCDE countries down to 2000W/capita which is the current world average of primary power consumption)

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Certainly important to cut down energy consumption. But I also wouldn’t extrapolate that growth for so long. That’s nearly impossible, in many respects.

  • Luke

    I’ve seen that bubble graph before… and it’s truly amazing how much sunlight the Earth receives – it dwarfs even the potential of wind energy. I also love the concept of space-based solar power, but its too expensive to work at the moment.

    Nice post…

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks. A good image is worth a thousand words… or maybe even many more. :D

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