Which has a bigger footprint, a coal plant or a solar farm?

As we grapple with the realities of shifting from a carbon intense to a low carbon economy, we will need to shift from our current reliance on coal to a mix of renewables.

While some people argue over the perceived problems around large scale wind farms, the other key large scale renewable that is ready to go is solar.

This post from Grist asks Which has a bigger footprint, a coal plant or a solar farm?

The following are some excerts:

One of the most commonly accepted bits of conventional wisdom about energy is the notion that fossil fuels like coal are “concentrated” and renewable sources are “diffuse.” According to this notion, the huge land demands of renewable sources like solar thermal are an inconvenient reality that energy planners must face up to.

As for whether using the sun or using coal to generate a kilowatt-hour disturbs more land, the answer is: coal. Based on the current mix of mining techniques, a (large) solar thermal plant …  will produce 18 GWh per acre of land over a 60-year period. In contrast, a coal-fired power plant will produce 15 GWh per acre of mined land. In other words, the land footprint of coal is about 20 percent bigger than the land footprint of solar thermal.

You can read the full article here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s