Essay on Solar Energy and the Energy Crisis

760 Words 4 Pages
Solar Energy and the Energy Crisis

Abstract
The energy crisis is a major problem in the United States. Solar energy can help alleviate
this problem. Enough solar panels to fulfill the energy needs of the entire United States
would take up 27,347 km2 and cost almost 17 trillion dollars. Therefore, although there is
enough space for all those solar panels, the economic cost is far too great. However,
solar power can be phased in gradually.
Solar Energy 3
Solar Energy: Can It Solve the Energy Crisis?
The world's supply of fossil fuels is dwindling. The amount of power generated from
renewable energy sources needs to be increased, as there is little chance of power consumption
decreasing. Solar power is a relatively untapped power
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Another way of generating electricity from solar radiation is through the use of solar thermal
energy. Power plants that generate electricity in this way use mirrors to focus the sun's energy. The
focused energy is used to boil water and create steam to drive a turbine (Solar Energy).
However, if solar power usage were to become more widespread, then the energy shortage the
Figure 1 ( data from Annual Energy Review, 2003)

United States is experiencing would be lessened. Combined with energy conservation and increased
use of other renewable sources (such as wind power and geothermal power), the energy crisis could
become a thing of the past.
Results/Discussion
The Annual Energy Review states that the United States used 98.156 quadrillion BTU of energy
in the year 2003. That is equal to 2.8766684 × 1013 kilowatt hours. Since there are 8765.81277 hours
in one year, 3.28169044 × 1012 watts are generated per year. A solar panel with an area of one square
meter produces 120 watts (Solar Cell, 2005), so 2.73474203 × 1010 square meters would be required to
produce that amount. That is equivalent to 10,558.898 square miles, or 27,347.420 square kilometers.
That value agrees with National Geographic's value of approximately 10,000 square miles, which is "an
area bigger than Vermont" but "[a]ll those panels would fit on less than a quarter of the roof and
pavement space in cities and suburbs" (Parfit, 2005).
However, this many…

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