That is not as far-fetched as it sounds. There may be a time when we will need to make the switch to renewable energy. Eventually, fossil fuels will run out. In addition, climate change may also make it necessary for solar power to become the norm.
Is there even enough solar energy hitting the Earth to power the whole world? There were two major studies that both examined this question. The first study, from Germany, looked at how much land would be needed to power Europe, Germany, and the entire world with solar power.
Another study looked at placing solar power plants in six different areas: North Africa, North America, Australia, South America, the Middle East and Central Asia. Both of these studies found that there is indeed enough solar energy to power the world’s solar needs.
The global consumption of power is just 15 TW. Solar could potentially produce 89,000 TW not even counting wind power, according to The Huffington Post.
So, now that we know that there is the potential to produce enough solar to power the world, what would the effect of going solar be?
Another study examined the effects of converting the entire world’s energy supply to solar. The researchers assumed that solar panels would be installed in desert areas where the supply of sunlight is the greatest. They would also install solar panels in major urban areas as these areas are where energy consumption is the greatest.
Less solar radiation would get absorbed by the Earth in areas that are covered with solar panels as solar radiation gets absorbed by the panels and converted to energy. This would decrease solar radiation in the deserts by 19 percent.
This decrease of solar radiation would cause significant changes to the climate. The average temperatures in the deserts would decrease by 2 degrees Celsius. Precipitation in the desert would decrease by more than 20 percent as solar panels would decrease cloud cover.
This cooling of the desert would lead to a shift in the jet stream, changes in wind patterns and different participation levels in many different regions of the world.
Australia, the Middle East, and Asia would lose up to 25 centimeters of precipitation a year. That precipitation would shift to Europe, north America, the North Pacific and Tropical Africa. Areas to the east of the deserts covered by solar panels would have about a one-degree celsius decrease in temperature.
As is evident by the research, there is enough solar energy in the world to cover all of the energy usages. Widespread solar panel installation would create big changes in climate change all over the Earth.