Elon Musk Says This Energy Source Can Power A Civilization Over 100 Times Larger Than Ours

Zinger Key Points
  • As the world is gravitating toward renewable energy sources, solar energy could emerges as a viable option.
  • Covering 1.2% of the Saharan Desert with solar panels would suffice the energy needs of the world, expert says.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk underlined the potential of solar energy by delving into what it could do for human life. The billionaire was repeating an idea he had shared way back in June 2022.

What Happened: The amount of solar energy received by the Earth would be sufficient to power a civilization that is 100 times larger than ours, Musk said while quote-tweeting a tweet by one of his followers going by Twitter handle @Rainmaker1973.

@Rainmaker1973’s tweet said the world’s current demand for power could be satisfied by covering 1.2% of the Sahara Desert with solar panels, attributing the deduction to a theoretical calculation. He shared links to two news stories that expounded on solar energy’s potential.

A 2017 story carried by “Power Technology” entitled “The Sahara: a solar battery for Europe” detailed a small U.K. company named TuNur, which applied to the Tunisian government to begin construction of a 4.5 Gigawatt concentrated solar power project in the Sahara Desert. If successful, the energy generated could be transported through underground cables to provide Europe with a new carbon-free, alternative baseload power, according to the article.

A recent Forbes story noted that TuNur and Elmed (a proposed 600 MW undersea high-voltage direct current interconnector) in Tunisia look to deliver clean electricity to Europe through Italy. TuNur’s final investment decision is due in 2024, it added.

See also: Best Solar Stocks

How The Math Works: The second link shared by @Rainmaker1973 was to a 2016 Forbes story, which included an answer by Berkeley professor Mehran Moalem to a question on Quora. The professor said the world’s energy usage, including both renewable and non-renewable sources, in 2015 was 13,000 million tons of oil equivalent, or MTOE, translating to 17.3 Terawatts of continuous power.

If a 43,000 square miles area of the earth is covered by solar panels, it would provide more than 17.4 TW power. If the Great Sahara Desert, which receives more than 12 hours of sunlight a day, is tapped, just 1.2% of it is sufficient to cover the energy needs of the world. The total area of the desert is 3.6 million square miles.

Those looking to invest in the future of solar technology can choose from a variety of ETFs, including Invesco Solar ETF TAN and iShares Global Clean Energy ETF ICLN.

Read next: About 25% Of US Electricity Comes From Renewable Energy Sources: Elon Musk Has One Word To Say About It

Photo: Shutterstock

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