How many km2 of solar panels in Spain and how much battery backup would it take to power Germany

Written by: Dr. Lars Schernikau and Prof. William H. Smith

1. Abstract

Germany is responsible for about 2% of global annual CO2 emis- sions from energy. To match Germany’s electricity demand (or over 15% of EU’s electricity demand) solely from solar photovoltaic pan- els located in Spain, about 7% of Spain would have to be covered with solar panels (~35.000 km²). Spain is the best-situated country in Europe for solar power, better in fact than India or (South) East Asia. The required Spanish solar park (PV-Spain) will have a total installed capacity of 2.000 GWp or almost 3x the 2020 installed solar capacity worldwide of 715 GW. In addition, backup storage capacity totaling about 45 TWh would be required. To produce sufficient storage capacity from batteries using today’s leading technology would require the full output of 900 Tesla Gigafactories working at full capacity for one year, not counting the replacement of batteries every 20 years. For the entire European Union’s electricity demand, 6 times as much – about 40% of Spain (~200.000 km² required, coupled with a battery capacity 6x higher.

Dr. Lars Schernikau is an energy economist and entrepreneur in the energy raw material industry. Prof. William Hayden Smith is Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McDonnell Center for Space Sciences at Washington University.

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