In Switzerland, they have a lovely solar power generation station on Mount Soleil. Here's what it looks like.
Here's the story.
The 110 silicon panels, standing in a field on a hilltop, have a total area of about 4,500 square meters (nearly 50,000 square feet). They are tilted at the best angle to catch the winter sun. The plant, which produces nearly 600,000 KWh annually, is one of the biggest in Europe.Using 2003 data, San Diego consumes 18,397 GWh of electricity per year. Note the unit differences. Consumption is in Gigawatt hours and production is in Kilowatt hours. If you used solar power to supply San Diego, you would need about 55 square miles of these panels, not accounting for the power lost in transmission lines or in the motors needed to track the sun.
Of course, San Diego would only be able to use the power during the day. At night, you'd be hosed. If you wanted to replace Southern California Edison, too, you're looking at covering another 245 square miles. Throw in the other Southern California electricity giant, Pacific Gas and Electric and you add 240 square miles of solar panels. That comes out to be around 540 square miles covered in solar panels, not including the roads needed to install and service the units nor the losses mentioned before. I imagine the costs of installing 540 square miles of solar cells in the middle of the desert would be trivial, right? I mean, how hard is it to get tens of thousands of workers and their equipment out to a piece of flat land? Criminy, if the Egyptians could do it, so can we!
Sounds like a plan! Alternative energy - yes, we can!