A data science exercise launched today by Project Solar UK assesses the power used in a year by key cities and translates how this could look if solar was used as the energy source.
The data experts worked out a calculation that helped give a visual reflection of how much space solar panels would take to generate the energy required to power the various cities. The experts established the square metreage required if solar panels were used to generate energy and were located in the same place to form a solar farm. They then chose a high profile landmark for each city, such as sports stadiums at Manchester United’s Old Trafford or shopping malls such as Meadowhall in Sheffield, to help people visualise the space required for solar energy to power the cities.
Using the dimensions of typical solar panels available to residential and commercial projects and calculating the area taken up by each panel, they then multiplied it by the number of panels needed to power the cities to generate a total area. As an example, Manchester used 2,400 GWh of power per year according to the most recent government statistics, which, when the calculation is applied equates to 707,096 solar panels – the equivalent area of 87,946 square metres more than 12 Old Trafford stadiums.
Simon Peat, CEO of Project Solar UK, the country’s largest retailer and installer of solar panels, whose technical experts undertook the exercise, says, “This exercise was to draw attention to solar energy and to encourage people to consider the sustainability benefits and energy independence it can bring. By highlighting the power output of various cities and the equivalent solar panels required to generate that amount of energy, we hope to encourage people to think about how this natural energy source of the sun could be used as a real alternative. Currently, the way energy is produced comes at a huge environmental cost and we all have to rely on imports from countries with larger natural gas and coal reserves. Switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar, would involve harnessing power from the sun in an altogether more environmentally friendly way. Our number crunching exercise is just a visual way of establishing how much space is needed for solar to be seen as an alternative energy source at a local level. “