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The total area of solar panels it would take to power the world, Europe, and Germany

Not quite that easy, I’m afraid.

That’s an area the size of Spain you’re talking about.  And it will only work if it is placed somewhere like the tropics, where the sunlight is strong enough and direct enough year-round to produce consistent, reliable amounts of energy.

And I’ll remind you that the West’s fucked-up history with the Mideast and northern Africa this past century has been predicated primarily on attempts to exert control over energy supplies.

So the idea behind this plan—which is fielded by German energy interests—placing the world’s source of energy in a nation that we’ve already fucked up and bears little goodwill toward us is not, you know, the smartest move.  It might minimize pollution, but it’s 99% guaranteed to start at least one war.

Plus: clean energy doesn’t mean perfect energy.  You’re talking about wiping out the ecosystem for an area the size of Spain.  Building a solar farm still involves bulldozing the area and laying down acres of pavement.

Also worth mentioning: the further away you move the energy generation from the users, the more vulnerable, unstable and costly you make the system.  You have to get the energy to the users, which itself costs (significant amounts of) energy, and requires a delivery system that, in this case, would be vulnerable to half a planet’s worth of disruptions.

You do, in fact, need to generate significantly more energy to run your home from halfway around the planet than to run your home from your own neighborhood.

So if you break this up and install many and much smaller solar panels all around the world, you end up needing many more solar farms, but the result is a more resilient grid that is less costly to run and offers more redundancy and durability in the face of human or natural disasters.

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