How many solar panels would it take to replace two nuclear power plants?

Sunny California

13 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    34,946,441 panels if you follow the assumptions:

    California has 2 working nuclear power plants at Diablo Canyon (2 units total 2,160 MW) and San Onofre (with two working units totaling 2,150 MW.) A more typical power plant may be 1 GW.

    To replace a nuclear power plant usually a commercial solar thermal installation would be considered and not solar panels. These plants use the more efficient solar thermal conversions than the far less efficient photovoltaic panels. Solar panels are more likely to be point of use energy sources. But if they were to be used to supply the grid we would have to factor in losses to convert the power to AC.

    Using a system location at Santa Maria as an example this NERL calculator (2) says that a 4kw system (3) would give 3.1 KW AC Our total target is 4310 MW or 4310000 KW so (4310000/3.1 = ) a factor of 1390322.58 (x 377 sq ft =) and therefore an area of 524151612.90 sq ft. (approximately 2 square miles )

    Individual panel sizes of about 15 sq ft are common which gives ( 524151612.90 sq ft/15 = ) 34,946,441 panels. This is a full daytime replacement. Night replacement would require an examination of the capacity factor of the plants and off peak usage. One of the many advantages of Solar thermal power plants is the potential for heat energy storage for nighttime usage.

    Source(s): 1 2 3 The default PV system size is 4 kW. This corresponds to a PV array area of approximately 35 m2 (377 ft2).
  • 1 decade ago

    A nuclear reactor produces about 1 GW of power. Often there is more than one on a site, for example, Diablo Canyon has 2.

    Solar is not an exact replacement, given our present infrastructure. As one person mentioned, the equivalent solar only works during the day.

    Assuming as a rough number that solar panels would get 6 hours of peak sun per day (1/4 day), that would mean that 4 GW of panels would need to be installed to replace one power plant. This does not need to be a huge, intrusive area. In reality, it would be scattered across thousands of sites and rooftops. Last year, California installed on the order of 2 GW of panels, and truthfully, I think most people didn't notice.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well I know of a California based company called Solar Reserve. You should read about their technology in the link below. They are planning to build a solar power plant in nevada next year. PV solar panels are not a viable way of providing a lot of energy, these solar power plants are the future. They can also provide power 24 HOURS A DAY because of the molten salt technology. So, there really are no drawbacks.The one that is planned in nevada is 100 MW, which is quite large. So, just look up how many MW a nuclear plant typically provides. Anyways Nuclear is not the way to go, it takes 10 year to build a single plant and if they propose to build one anyone who leaves near it will fight it because they are afraid of nuclear power, so without public support they will never get built. Nobody will be opposed to Solar Power.

  • 1 decade ago

    What is the output of the plants? Why nuclear? A 10MW plant (small) puts out 10MW whether it's nuclear, coal, oil, nat gas, or hydro.

    It would take 5000, 200W (DMSolar brand) panels / MW. They would take up about 80564 sq-ft. not counting any space for mounts, and access.

    Sunny California is not the best place for PV solar. The panels gain or fade output as a direct function of their surface temperature. A 200W panel is rated @ 1000W/sq-M (full irradiance) , at 25C. And that is difficult to count on. Considerably less as they heat up, more if they are cold. It's a rather steep linear curve.

    BTW. What will replace the nuclear plants at night?

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    There is an abundance of free energy available on this planet. Wave, wind, solar, (underground), and many many others that I can't remember right now. If some of the multi-trillions currently being spent being spent by the US government on defence (and the rest of the planet defending ourselves FROM the US) were re-directed towards exploiting sustainable, long-term energy supplies, then much work would be generated and the cost of energy would drop significantly - in the long run. So, why are we not utilizing these sources of energy? Unbelievably short-sighted right-wing political ideology, that's why! One thing almost never reported about nuclear power, is that there isn't much nuclear power fuel available on this planet. I think I can quite honestly state that when the time comes when we are forced to move from non-renewable to renewable energy production, it will probably be far too late with far too much damage done and the environment will collapse and become incapable of supporting oxygen breathing life-forms. I concluded many years ago that capitalism will probably end all life on this planet one day. Capitalism IS right-wing politics! Do you now see where the problem is coming from?

  • 1 decade ago

    I'm not sure...bit check this out and follow the link

    Germany is the world leader in installed solar photovoltaic panels -- and they also just shut down seven of their oldest nuclear reactors. Coincidence? Maaaaybe ... Anyway, it's worth noting that just today, total power output of Germany's installed solar PV panels hit 12.1 GW -- greater than the total power output (10 GW) of Japan's entire 6-reactor nuclear power plant.

    Source(s): (any1 want to IM?) just bored and idc what it's about
  • 1 decade ago

    The average daily output across the US seems to be 84,000 megawatts per day across 107 nuclear reactors.

    This means the average output per reactor is 785 megawatts per day OR 286,525 megawatts per annum. Therefore 2 nuclear reactors would on average generate 573,050 megawatts per annum.

    A 1 meter squared Solar System generates approximately 5 KiloWatts per day or 1,825 KiloWatts per annum in California. Thus you would need approximately 314,000 1 meter squared solar panels in California to generate the same amount of power as 2 average nuclear power plants. That is only .34 square kilometers of space. Not bad huh.

    You would need significantly less in Arizona and significantly more in Vermont.

  • 1 decade ago

    San Onofre Unit 2 produces 1,172 million watts or 1,172,000,000 watts.

    A large solar panel might make 200 watts on a clear day at noon.

    Doing the math I get 586,000 panels. At noon. Average over nights, mornings and afternoons, and cloudy days maybe 4 times as many.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    There is a step-by-step video guide online right now that can show you how to reduce your power bill by making your own solar panels.

    Take a look at it:

    Why pay thousands of dollars for solar energy ($27,000 average cost) when you can build your own solar panel system for just a fraction of the retail cost. You can build a single solar panel or you can build an entire array of panels to power your whole house.

    Some people are saving 50% on their power bill, some people are reducing their bill to nothing. But what’s most impressive is that just by following these instructions some are even making the power company pay them!

  • 1 decade ago

    I'm guessing it depends on the size of the panels, the material, the exact location (how sunny)...

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