A date that most movie buffs know by heart, October 21, 2015, is the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future in Steven Spielberg’s 1989 classic Back to the Future Part II.
Although you may not have remembered the date, you’ve probably heard of Doc’s DeLorean, which takes 1.21 gigawatts (GW) of power to travel through time. Admittedly, our national labs haven’t quite figured out time travel just yet, but they do analyze power.
Graphic by Sarah Harman | U.S. Department of Energy
For instance, at the end of 2022, there were over 144 GW of wind power and 110 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) total in the United States. To help put this number in perspective, it’s important to know just how big 1 GW is. A watt is a measure of power and there are 1 billion watts in 1 GW. (And if you wanted to break it down even further, 1 million watts = 1 megawatt [MW] and 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt [kW].)
Need a stronger visual? Here are six examples equal to 1 GW of power:
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