Surface Area Required To Power The World (revision)

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    My reworking of the brilliant Land Art Generator images 'Suface Area Required To Power The World' with one alternative energy source added :)

    Originals are here:


    here's my maths (probably wrong, please correct me if so)

    total world energy needs per year:
    198,721,800,000,000 kwH

    average energy output of a human per hour
    0.1 KW per human (100 watts)

    365 days at 24 hours a day = 8760 energy hours per year per human

    0.1 KW x 8760 hours = 876 KWh energy generated per human per year

    world energy needs divided by human supply

    198,721,800,000,000 / 876 = 226,851,369,863 humans required

    Human body occupies

    2m x 1m = 2square metres

    assuming machinery and spacing between human batteries

    4m x 2m = 8 square metres


    1, 814,810,958,904 metres for all human batteries

    1.8 trillion square metres


    18,148,810,958 = 18 billion square kilometres

    world land surface area is:

    148,940,000 square kilometres (wikipedia)

    so would require 221 billion humans to be stacked 121 rows high across the entire land surface of the earth.

    very dystopian!


    more inforgraphics at

    David Siñuela Pastor, Tеоn, and 83 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Alexandre Van de Sande 56 months ago | reply

      The first two graphs might be a little misleading - it doesn't look like a lot, but at a world scale those solar arrays are ocupying whole forests or multiple counties.

      As for the last one I know you are making wrong calculations in purpose, to mislead us of the truth that we are in fact living inside the matrix...

    2. DaJass 56 months ago | reply

      Way interesting. Have to agree to Alexandre but it's still think it's a great picture although I LOVE your conclusion. HILARIOUS!

    3. Porter Yates 56 months ago | reply

      I think the solar graphic is off by a factor of 6. Average usable solar energy is 160 W/m^2 not the assumed 1000 W/m^2.


    4. Erik Visser 56 months ago | reply

      Love those graphics. If they are correct to the dot isn't that interesting. Just by looking at it and knowing that all sustainable energy will get much much more efficient over time. It shows it's doable.

    5. Brett_Allen 56 months ago | reply

      So "friken" wrong: Confusing Acres with Square miles is what I'd call "friken" wrong.

      1 acre is 4000M2.

      1 square mile is 2589988.11M2 That means that you're off by a factor of 647.5.

      Take this into account and you have an Area Needed of less than one half of one percent of your land area, which is in line with published estimates.

      And BTW! The United States a couple of million acres in area? Do you have no intuitive sense of what these units mean?
      In Australia we have Stations (Ranches) bigger than that.

    6. /hilco 55 months ago | reply

      Original thinking AND great visualizing, will check your blog more often too!

    7. François Van Damme 55 months ago | reply

      very nice representation!

    8. Ray Tomes 54 months ago | reply

      It should last a day or two. Humans need food!

    9. josephpc2 48 months ago | reply

      another alternative from This fall the Liaoning Huishan Cow Farm in northeast China will open the largest manure power project in the world. The poop from 250,000 cows will be processed in four General Electric Co. biogas turbines. The plant will annually supply 38,000 megawatt-hours and is projected to supply 15,000 residents with power. But the process addresses many other environmental issues at the same time- reducing dung piles, creating fertilizer and generating heat.

    10. virus_2049 48 months ago | reply

      then we can all travel to the beach and look at the wind farms in the distance. fantastic.

    11. Andrey Shipilov 46 months ago | reply

      That's is obviously a lie. A city needs a solar power plant twice as large in area.

    12. pumpeds 43 months ago | reply

      What about other more efficient power sources. I.e. nuclear reactors.

    13. SarcMoer 31 months ago | reply

      For a stable source of energy the highest allowable World power generation provided at one moment is 20 181000000000kWh power (2008), including all forms of energy

      Earth land size 148,940,000 km2 land

      Industrial Solar panels can provide
      10 000 000 kWh from 126,000 solar panels using a land space of 364km2 (90 acres)

      put it all together

      World power generation provided / Solar farm of (10 million kWh farms @ 364km2) =
      20 181000000000kWh / 10 000 000 kWh =
      2018100 ( 10 000 000 kWh farms @ 364km2) are needed to supply 20 181000000000kWh

      How much land would 2018100 Solar Farm @ 364km2 use =
      2018100 x 364km2 =
      734,870,934km2 (land needed for solar panels)

      What percentage of Earth's land space 148,940,000km2 would be taken up ?
      [ 734,870,934km2 (land needed for solar panels) * (100) ]/ 148,940,000km2 (Earth's land space) = 493%
      Over 4 Earths completely covered with solar panels are required to support World power generation to 1 Earth

      I would like to focus just on electrical energy in the future.

      The key difference between my source of data (World power generation) , which is the same as landartgenerator, (opposed to World energy consumed in a year) is that I'm not taking the entire energy consumed in a year and dividing it up, I'm taking the maximum allowable power that can be supplied at once to earth. This is important, as you know the total amount of energy consumed is not the key aspect to a better service but the amount of energy that we can use at once when needed. As this is hypothetical I understand that this is not possible in a practical manner, as to allow 100% use of the maximum allowable power to be used all the hydro plant generators etc. would have to be running all at once on Earth which will never happen.

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