How much land is needed to power the world’s major cities by solar?

By RS Components

The US Department of energy states that more solar power from the sun hits the Earth in a single hour than humanity uses in an entire year.

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The US Department of Energy states that more power from the sun hits the Earth in a single hour than humanity uses in an entire year.

And according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, doubling the world’s renewable energy capacity by 2030 could save the global economy up to $4.2 trillion each year.

Renewable energy has reached a tipping point—it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming. Solar and wind have just become very competitive, and costs continue to fall, it is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.” - Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the World Economic Forum.

How much land would it take to power the world’s major cities by solar power? Check out this cool, interactive tool: set the sort by functions and take a look below to see how little land is needed to power your city by solar.

The top 5 cities that would need the smallest % of city area taken up by solar panels to power them:

  1. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa. 0.05% share of city
  2. Nairobi, Kenya, Africa. 0.2% share of city
  3. Khartoum, Sudan, Africa. 0.2% share of city
  4. Harbin, China, Asia. 0.2% share of city
  5. Santiago, Chile, South America. 0.4% share of city

The top 5 cities that would need the largest % of city area taken up by solar panels to power them:

  1. Paris, France, Europe. 44.2% share of city
  2. Seoul, South Korea, Asia. 41.9%
  3. New York City, United States, North America. 26.5% share of city
  4. Osaka, Japan, Asia. 23.5% share of city
  5. Moscow, Russia, Europe. 19.2% share of city

According to the data, Paris is the most power-hungry city. Nearly half (44.2%) of Paris’ land space needs to be accommodated by solar panels to harness the sheer amount of energy needed to run the city.

The top 5 cities with the smallest areas (km2) of solar panels needed to power them:

  1. Kuwait, Asia
  2. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa
  3. Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
  4. Accra, Ghana, Africa
  5. Khartoum, Sudan, Africa

The top 5 cities with the biggest areas (sq km) of solar panels needed to power them:

  1. Chongqing, China, Asia
  2. Tokyo, Japan, Asia
  3. Seoul, South Korea, Asia
  4. Chengdu, China, Asia
  5. Moscow, Russia, Europe

Asia tops the list for the continent that would need to designate the largest space to power its biggest cities by solar. Cities in Asia place in at seven different spaces in the top 10, where the largest amount of space is required.

It may come as a surprise that London, England, places 8th in the same list requiring 138 km2 out of it’s 1,572 km2 area to power itself and its 8,787,892 strong population. Moscow, Russia and New York City, United States also take spots in the top 10, at 5th and 6th respectively.

For more information on how many solar panels are needed to power the world, visit RS Components.

List of cities represents 100 most populated urban areas in the world, according to United Nations, Population Division. Electricity consumption is estimated using the population of the city and per capita consumption of the country where that city is located, taken from International Energy Agency. Number of sunshine hours taken from weather and climate and statistics sites such as Climatemps, WeatherOnline, and Statista. Land Art Generator Initiative’s estimate of solar power potential at 0.2 kW per square meter was used to estimate the total area of solar panels needed. Standard dimensions of solar battery was taken from BrightSolar.


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