How Many Solar Panels To Power Australia?

Supporters of solar power often wonder how many solar panels it would take to power Australia and if grouped together, how much land would they occupy?
 
We can estimate the land coverage needed thanks to a project from the Land Generator Initiative.
 
In the accompanying image, the yellow box on the map of Australia shows the solar panel coverage required to provide all Australia’s energy needs in 2030 – that’s for everything – electricity, transport; replacing any other energy source traditionally used for the application in question.
 
The image is from a global map from the Land Generator Initiative whose calculations were based on the US Department of Energy’s figures of projected world consumption of energy in all of its forms (including traditionally consumed from generation via fossil fuels such as oil and coal.) as projected in 2030 – a staggering 199,721 terawatt hours.
 
It’s a big area; however LGI says we could reduce that amount by 5% – 25% by adding in other renewable energy sources such as wind power, wave energy and existing hydroelectric. New hydroelectric facilities are not considered as an option as their establishment wreaks havoc upon the environment by flooding valleys and altering river flows downstream. By using concentrating solar power technologies, the amount of land required would be far less again and existing rooftop space utilised for solar power generation would further greatly reduce the amount of land set aside for such an initiative.
 
LGI also points out that the overall area of the US interstate highway system, which was constructed in just 35 years, is 94,000 square kilometres, or 20% of the overall required solar panel coverage area for the world. Given the USA also consumes about 20% of the world’s energy, what it has in highway infrastructure already in terms of land area is enough to power the nation if an equivalent amount was used for solar panels.
 
Source: Land Generator Initiative