21 January 2011

Building a House of Light and Wind

David Biello on the daunting physical logistics of scaling up green energy:

“It’s not just a matter of making the necessary equipment, it’s also a question of finding the space for it. A coal-fired power plant produces 100 to 1,000 watts per square meter, depending on the type of coal it burns and how that coal is mined. A typical photovoltaic system for turning sunlight into electricity produces just 9 watts per square meter, and wind provides only 1.5 watts per square meter.

The challenge is worse for smaller countries: the United Kingdom would have to cover its entire landmass with wind turbines to provide enough electricity for the current Briton’s average consumption — roughly 200 kilowatt-hours per day, according to MacKay, the Cambridge expert.”

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