That’s the space that could be required to site most of the massive deployments of wind and solar generation required to fulfill President Biden’s goal of a net-zero-carbon economy by midcentury, according to a recent first-ever project to attempt mapping that future.
The 345-page study by Princeton University analysts estimates how to efficiently locate 3 million megawatts of new renewable power generation, nearly triple the entire U.S. electric power plant capacity today
“Overall, the all-in scenario of slapping solar panels on every single building wouldn’t be enough to replace all our power plants, but 40 percent ain’t bad. More plausible (and less Fiddler-on-the-Roof-If-I-Were-a-Rich-Man) scenarios would obviously stay south of that number”
And as the Princeton study noted, we would need to “efficiently locate 3 million megawatts of new renewable power generation, nearly triple the entire U.S. electric power plant capacity today”
Only if they do not put Nuclear into the fold. I think we all know or should know that Solar and Wind is not going to be the only thing out there, but I think it could be Nuclear, Natural Gas, Dams, Solar, Wind to get the mix we need for energy generation.
The global energy system has a relatively small land footprint at present, comprising just 0.4% of ice-free land. This pales in comparison to agricultural land use– 30–38% of ice-free land–yet future low-carbon energy systems that shift to more extensive technologies could dramatically alter landscapes around the globe.
The challenge is more acute given the projected doubling of global energy consumption by 2050 and widespread electrification of transportation and industry. Yet unlike greenhouse gas emissions, land use intensity of energy has been rarely studied in a rigorous way.
Here we calculate land-use intensity of energy (LUIE) for real-world sites across all major sources of electricity, integrating data from published literature, databases, and original data collection. We find a range of LUIE that span four orders of magnitude, from nuclear with 7.1 ha/TWh/y to dedicated biomass at 58,000 ha/TWh/y.
By applying these LUIE results to the future electricity portfolios of ten energy scenarios, we conclude that land use could become a significant constraint on deep decarbonization of the power system, yet low-carbon, land-efficient options are available.
DB, thanks! The graphs in that report exactly address the question I asked. Seems that ground mounted PV and concentrated solar are very competitive with NG and coal, wrt land use. Of course, PV mounted on top of other structures is the most land efficient of all.