# USA, in 4139days can replace gasoline with solar electricity

And pay for the equipment required for the change

I know what your thinking, get to the point so I can decide your talking nonsense. Well bear with me for a minute.

For the USA to convert completely from gasoline to solar power it will take

6,426 square kilometers for solar energy production
4139 days to pay for the construction of the solar power plant

So what you ask, well an electric motor is 3 times more economical than you petrol engine, spend at least 66% less at the pump!

This is the video that spurred our interest

The guy claims all sorts of stuff, I don’t know if it is true but we will give him the benefit of the doubt cause the speech is entertaining.

The point we pick up on here is that the energy from 1square meter of solar panel over 960hours is the same as 1 gallon of gas/petrol. Well we looked into it and we don’t agree with the guys figures but if your interested, read on and we’ll show you where we got our figures.

We have made a few assumptions in the caluculations.

1. Solar power produced with solar thermal and NOT solar voltaic

2. 960square meters of solar power station per hour = 1 gallon of gas as per the video but this is incorrect

51 square meter per day = 1 gallon of gas

The basic figures:

1. 378Million Gallons of Gasoline Consumed per day – Daily consumption of gasoline in the USA as of 2009 = 378 million gallons/day
Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=oil_home#tab2

2. 487USD per square meter – The cost of 1 square meter of solar equipment 487USD http://www.mnforsustain.org/trainer_ted_limits_renewable_energy_0903.htm

So these are the calculations:

First of all we want to calculate the area need to take the same energy from the sun as we take from gas.

So, 51 x 378,000,000 = 19,278,000,000 square meters or 19, 278 square kilometers required to replace 1 day of gas with 1 day of solar energy.

So 19,278 square km required, is this a feasible target? Depends but it helps that the US government owns the vast majority of land in the sunniest part of the world.

Let’s look at the states where you would most likely put a solar power station

Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas & California (The sunniest areas in the world http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/a-place-in-the-sun-542087.html). And look who owns the land there http://bigthink.com/ideas/21343

The US government! And look how much their percentage ownership stacks up, over 240,358 square kilometers in Nevada alone!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_area

Land is not an issue

Okay, so let us look at the cost

We say we need 19,278 square kilometers. If it costs 487USD(http://www.mnforsustain.org/trainer_ted_limits_renewable_energy_0903.htm) to equip 1 square meter with solar power, it costs 487,000,000 USD to equip one square kilometer (there are 1 million square meters in a square kilometer)

And we said we needed 19,278 square kilometers of area so the equipment cost would be 9,388,386,000,000  or 9.388 trillion dollars.

Sounds like a lot but how much does the gas cost that we use every day?

Say a gallon of gas costs 2 dollars (to be as ultra conservative as possible)http://www.bakersfieldgasprices.com/. That means USA business and public spend 756,000,000 or 756 million dollars a day on gas.

So how long will it take to pay for the solar plant assuming zero maintenance cost?

9.388 trillion divided by 756million

12417 days to pay for the infrastructure or 34years.

But lets not forget, electric motors are around 3-4 times more efficent than gasoline engines so we can cut that cost and area by a two thirds

So in summary

Land needed to convert completely from gasoline to electric = 6,426 square kilometers
Time to pay for solar energy power station = 4139 days
Cost to equip 6,426 square kilometers with solar power generation =  3.1 trillion dollars