March 21 2012

Efficiency of Solar Panel’s in Arizona’s Deserts

Tempe, Arizona gets 211 sunny days every year. Arizona is 113,990 sq mi. The sun emits 12.2 trillion watt-hours per square mile per year of solar energy. So, the total solar energy possibly gained in Arizona is 1,390,678 trillion watt-hours, which is roughly equivalent to 1, 390 terawatt-hours. World energy consumption in 2008 was 19,000 Terawatt-hours.

Essentially, Arizona alone, if completely covered in solar/PV panels could supply 7% of world energy demand. This may not sound significant, but now let’s look at the percentage of world land area that is covered by Arizona: As stated earlier, Arizona is 113,990 sq mi. Since the world is 57,308,738 Sq. miles, the area of Arizona is only 0.1% of world area. The fact that such a small area could produce 7% of energy supply is quite a feat! Of course, covering the state in a grid of solar panels is quite unrealistic. Nevertheless the potential is there.

The landscape of Arizona would be markedly different if its entirety was cloaked in solar panels. This is where the architect and engineer come in. The built environment could have power systems built in! Especially in Arizona, where sun is plentiful, solar panels can encapsulate curtain wall systems or roof treatments, et cetera. In this way, the system that feeds into the grid is not a separate entity, but becomes an intrinsic and unique architectural element that both is hidden by and exemplifies the architecture that it is apart.

What if this potential of the sun could be harnessed in the façades and roofs of buildings? If solar technology could be harnessed in areas of the world where it is most effective, what effect would that have on the power grid? What effect would that have on city form? How could this new incorporated grid change the job of the city planner?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Jeff P Jilek

Jeff Jilek has earned a B.S. in Architecture with a Minor in City & Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He has been involved with architecture since his junior year of High School when he attended Eastland Career Center’s Architecture program. Sustainable Design is something that he is most interested in but also has taken many college level courses in psychology, political science, and philosophy. He will be attends Arizona State University for continuing education. He is pursuing both his M.B.A and Master of Architecture degrees. He blogged about pertinent issues in design and how design relates to global dynamics, culture, and economy.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Technology, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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