A new study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) states that the US has the technology and the solar capacity to power every home across the states with energy from the sun! Researchers found that the US has the ability to make and deploy systems able to generate as much as 200,000 GW of energy – or about 400,000 TWh of energy annually. To give that some perspective, 1 GW is what a standard nuclear power plant can generate, and it’s enough to power approximately 700,000 homes. In short, if the US put its mind to it, it could power the entire country with solar power.

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Of course, this report is theoretical because it does not take into account the financial cost nor the political challenges that would be involved. Instead, it looks solely at whether it is scientifically possible with the country’s engineering capabilities – and the answer is a resounding yes!

The report looks at the different types of solar power including urban utility-scale photovoltaics, rural utility-scale photovoltaics, rooftop photovoltaics, and concentrated solar power and breaks down how viable each one is. It also looks at which states would provide the highest solar yield, and unsurprisingly California and Texas topped the list thanks to their ample exposure to sunlight.

To quote the report: “The total estimated annual technical potential in the United States for urban utility-scale PV is 2,232 terawatt-hours (TWh). Texas and California have the highest estimated
technical potential, a result of a combination of good solar resource and large population.”

“Rural utility-scale PV leads all other technologies in technical potential. This is a result of relatively high power density, the absence of minimum resource threshold, and the availability of large swaths for development. Texas accounts for roughly 14% (38,993 TWh) of the entire estimated U.S. technical potential for utility-scale PV (280,613 TWh).”

So there you go. If the US was to put its economical and political might behind this endeavor, then it would be able to power the entire country cleanly and efficiently. Of course, this writer forsees several problems, namely certain political parties and their financial backing from coal and oil companies.



Images: ricketyus and NREL Solar Decathlon