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

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 $4.2trillion 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? Use the sort by functions and take a look below to see how little land is needed to power your city by solar.

   Square metres (Sq m) of solar panels required to power city

Sort:

Dar es Salaam

TANZANIA

5km

% of city area 0.05

km of solar panels 1

Hrs of sun per year 2,836

Population 4,364,541

Nairobi

KENYA

5km

% of city area 0.2

km of solar panels 1

Hrs of sun per year 2,492

Population 3,138,369

Khartoum

SUDAN

5km

% of city area 0.2

km of solar panels 2

Hrs of sun per year 3,737

Population 5,185,000

Harbin

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.2

km of solar panels 100

Hrs of sun per year 2,091

Population 10,635,971

Santiago

CHILE

5km

% of city area 0.4

km of solar panels 2

Hrs of sun per year 2,545

Population 308,000

Yangon

MYANMAR

5km

% of city area 0.4

km of solar panels 2

Hrs of sun per year 2,452

Population 5,160,512

Kuwait

KUWAIT

5km

% of city area 0.4

km of solar panels 1

Hrs of sun per year 3,347

Population 32,403

Dalian

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.4

km of solar panels 52

Hrs of sun per year 2,539

Population 6,690,432

Alexandria

EGYPT

5km

% of city area 0.4

km of solar panels 12

Hrs of sun per year 3,579

Population 4,984,387

Lahore

PAKISTAN

5km

% of city area 0.5

km of solar panels 8

Hrs of sun per year 3,034

Population 10,355,000

Lagos

NIGERIA

5km

% of city area 0.5

km of solar panels 5

Hrs of sun per year 1,845

Population 13,123,000

Shenyang

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.5

km of solar panels 66

Hrs of sun per year 2,413

Population 8,106,171

Kinshasa

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
OF THE CONGO

5km

% of city area 0.5

km of solar panels 3

Hrs of sun per year 1,672

Population 9,735,000

Pune

INDIA

5km

% of city area 0.6

km of solar panels 4

Hrs of sun per year 2,900

Population 3,124,458

Los Angeles

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 5.8

km of solar panels 76

Hrs of sun per year 3,254

Population 3,792,621

Qingdao

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.6

km of solar panels 71

Hrs of sun per year 2,491

Population 9,046,200

Abidjan

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

5km

% of city area 0.7

km of solar panels 3

Hrs of sun per year 2,296

Population 4,707,404

Cairo

EGYPT

5km

% of city area 0.7

km of solar panels 23

Hrs of sun per year 3,542

Population 9,500,000

Hangzhou

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.8

km of solar panels 137

Hrs of sun per year 1,316

Population 9,188,000

Chongqing

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.8

km of solar panels 684

Hrs of sun per year 1,055

Population 36,700,000

Beijing

CHINA

5km

% of city area 0.8

km of solar panels 137

Hrs of sun per year 2,671

Population 18,590,000

Accra

GHANA

5km

% of city area 0.9

km of solar panels 2

Hrs of sun per year 2,432

Population 2,070,463

Melbourne

AUSTRALIA

5km

% of city area 3.9

km of solar panels 98

Hrs of sun per year 2,363

Population 4,641,636

Xi'an

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1

km of solar panels 95

Hrs of sun per year 1,796

Population 8,705,600

Quanzhou

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1

km of solar panels 114

Hrs of sun per year 1,405

Population 8,128,533

Tianjin

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1.2

km of solar panels 137

Hrs of sun per year 2,221

Population 15,469,500

Nanjing

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1.2

km of solar panels 79

Hrs of sun per year 2,059

Population 8,230,000

Karachi

PAKISTAN

5km

% of city area 1.2

km of solar panels 7

Hrs of sun per year 2,950

Population 9,269,265

Ho Chi Minh City

VIETNAM

5km

% of city area 1.3

km of solar panels 26

Hrs of sun per year 2,299

Population 8,426,100

Suzhou

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1.4

km of solar panels 117

Hrs of sun per year 1,776

Population 10,578,700

Kolkata

INDIA

5km

% of city area 1.4

km of solar panels 27

Hrs of sun per year 2,108

Population 14,112,536

Zhengzhou

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1.4

km of solar panels 109

Hrs of sun per year 1,730

Population 9,568,000

Wuhan

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1.5

km of solar panels 128

Hrs of sun per year 1,625

Population 10,607,700

Hyderabad

INDIA

5km

% of city area 1.5

km of solar panels 10

Hrs of sun per year 2,730

Population 6,809,970

Ahmedabad

INDIA

5km

% of city area 1.6

km of solar panels 7

Hrs of sun per year 3,020

Population 5,577,967

Surabaya

INDONESIA

5km

% of city area 1.6

km of solar panels 6

Hrs of sun per year 1,973

Population 2,765,487

Chengdu

CHINA

5km

% of city area 1.7

km of solar panels 242

Hrs of sun per year 1,172

Population 14,427,500

Delhi

INDIA

5km

% of city area 1.7

km of solar panels 25

Hrs of sun per year 2,685

Population 16,787,941

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIA

5km

% of city area 7.4

km of solar panels 18

Hrs of sun per year 2,228

Population 1,768,000

Istanbul

TURKEY

5km

% of city area 6.3

km of solar panels 85

Hrs of sun per year 2,218

Population 13,187,000

Phoenix

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 1.8

km of solar panels 24

Hrs of sun per year 3,872

Population 1,445,632

Surat

INDIA

5km

% of city area 1.8

km of solar panels 6

Hrs of sun per year 3,020

Population 4,467,797

Luanda

ANGOLA

5km

% of city area 1.9

km of solar panels 2

Hrs of sun per year 2,341

Population 2,825,311

Johannesburg

SOUTH AFRICA

5km

% of city area 1.9

km of solar panels 6

Hrs of sun per year 3,124

Population 957,441

Jakarta

INDONESIA

5km

% of city area 2

km of solar panels 13

Hrs of sun per year 2,983

Population 9,607,787

Bangalore

INDIA

5km

% of city area 2

km of solar panels 14

Hrs of sun per year 2,361

Population 8,443,675

Bandung

INDONESIA

5km

% of city area 2.1

km of solar panels 3

Hrs of sun per year 2,983

Population 2,575,478

Guangzhou

CHINA

5km

% of city area 2.1

km of solar panels 156

Hrs of sun per year 1,773

Population 14,043,500

Lima

PERU

5km

% of city area 2.2

km of solar panels 58

Hrs of sun per year 1,230

Population 10,852,210

Rome

ITALY

5km

% of city area 2.3

km of solar panels 29

Hrs of sun per year 2,473

Population 2,877,215

Chennai

INDIA

5km

% of city area 2.4

km of solar panels 10

Hrs of sun per year 2,762

Population 7,088,000

Dhaka

BANGLADESH

5km

% of city area 2.5

km of solar panels 7

Hrs of sun per year 2,066

Population 8,906,039

Medan

INDONESIA

5km

% of city area 2.5

km of solar panels 7

Hrs of sun per year 1,275

Population 2,097,610

Mexico City

MEXICO

5km

% of city area 5.2

km of solar panels 38

Hrs of sun per year 2,555

Population 8,918,653

Monterrey

MEXICO

5km

% of city area 2.2

km of solar panels 7

Hrs of sun per year 2,088

Population 1,435,550

Baghdad

IRAQ

5km

% of city area 2.6

km of solar panels 18

Hrs of sun per year 3,241

Population 8,765,000

Atlanta

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 2.9

km of solar panels 10

Hrs of sun per year 2,738

Population 420,003

Rio de Janeiro

BRAZIL

5km

% of city area 2.9

km of solar panels 37

Hrs of sun per year 2,250

Population 6,453,682

Dallas

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 3.1

km of solar panels 27

Hrs of sun per year 2,850

Population 1,197,816

Mumbai

INDIA

5km

% of city area 3.2

km of solar panels 19

Hrs of sun per year 2,584

Population 12,442,373

Houston

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 3.2

km of solar panels 53

Hrs of sun per year 2,578

Population 2,099,451

Guadalajara

MEXICO

5km

% of city area 3.4

km of solar panels 6

Hrs of sun per year 2,570

Population 1,495,189

Dongguan

CHINA

5km

% of city area 3.7

km of solar panels 91

Hrs of sun per year 1,773

Population 8,220,207

Ankara

TURKEY

5km

% of city area 3.8

km of solar panels 25

Hrs of sun per year 2,450

Population 4,299,000

Belo Horizonte

BRAZIL

5km

% of city area 3.9

km of solar panels 13

Hrs of sun per year 2,493

Population 2,502,557

Shenzhen

CHINA

5km

% of city area 5.5

km of solar panels 114

Hrs of sun per year 2,060

Population 11,908,400

Sydney

AUSTRALIA

5km

% of city area 5.9

km of solar panels 95

Hrs of sun per year 2,636

Population 5,005,400

Tehran

IRAN

5km

% of city area 10.3

km of solar panels 75

Hrs of sun per year 2,996

Population 15,000,000

Dusseldorf

GERMANY

5km

% of city area 12.9

km of solar panels 28

Hrs of sun per year 1,561

Population 1,220,000

Manila

PHILIPPINES

5km

% of city area 7

km of solar panels 3

Hrs of sun per year 2,103

Population 1,780,148

Berlin

GERMANY

5km

% of city area 8.4

km of solar panels 75

Hrs of sun per year 1,626

Population 3,470,000

London

UNITED KINGDOM

5km

% of city area 8.8

km of solar panels 138

Hrs of sun per year 1,633

Population 8,787,892

Miami

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 8.8

km of solar panels 8

Hrs of sun per year 3,154

Population 399,457

Taipei

TAIWAN

5km

% of city area 9.1

km of solar panels 103

Hrs of sun per year 1,405

Population 2,704,974

Milan

ITALY

5km

% of city area 9.8

km of solar panels 18

Hrs of sun per year 1,915

Population 1,368,590

Washington DC

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 9.9

km of solar panels 17

Hrs of sun per year 2,528

Population 681,170

Bogota

COLOMBIA

5km

% of city area 9.9

km of solar panels 30

Hrs of sun per year 1,710

Population 8,080,734

Buenos Aires

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 10.2

km of solar panels 23

Hrs of sun per year 2,533

Population 3,890,151

Philadelphia

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 10.7

km of solar panels 40

Hrs of sun per year 2,498

Population 1,526,006

Hong Kong

HONG KONG (CHINA)

5km

% of city area 11

km of solar panels 122

Hrs of sun per year 1,836

Population 7,374,900

Chicago

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 11.5

km of solar panels 70

Hrs of sun per year 2,508

Population 2,695,598

Nagoya

JAPAN

5km

% of city area 13.1

km of solar panels 43

Hrs of sun per year 2,092

Population 2,283,289

Boston

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 13.4

km of solar panels 17

Hrs of sun per year 2,634

Population 673,184

St. Petersburg

RUSSIA

5km

% of city area 14

km of solar panels 98

Hrs of sun per year 1,563

Population 4,642,130

San Francisco

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 14

km of solar panels 17

Hrs of sun per year 3,062

Population 805,235

Busan

SOUTH KOREA

5km

% of city area 14.7

km of solar panels 113

Hrs of sun per year 1,654

Population 3,525,913

Barcelona

SPAIN

5km

% of city area 16.3

km of solar panels 17

Hrs of sun per year 2,591

Population 1,604,555

Toronto

CANADA

5km

% of city area 16.3

km of solar panels 103

Hrs of sun per year 2,066

Population 2,731,571

Singapore

SINGAPORE

5km

% of city area 17

km of solar panels 123

Hrs of sun per year 2,022

Population 5,607,300

Moscow

RUSSIA

5km

% of city area 19.2

km of solar panels 236

Hrs of sun per year 1,731

Population 12,380,664

Tokyo

JAPAN

5km

% of city area 13

km of solar panels 284

Hrs of sun per year 1,877

Population 13,617,445

Osaka

JAPAN

5km

% of city area 23.5

km of solar panels 52

Hrs of sun per year 1,996

Population 2,668,586

New York City

UNITED STATES

5km

% of city area 26.5

km of solar panels 209

Hrs of sun per year 2,535

Population 8,175,133

Seoul

SOUTH KOREA

5km

% of city area 41.9

km of solar panels 253

Hrs of sun per year 2,066

Population 9,914,381

Paris

FRANCE

5km

% of city area 44.2

km of solar panels 47

Hrs of sun per year 1,662

Population 2,229,621

Methodology

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. Full data available upon request.

Sources

https://data.gov.uk/
http://energyatlas.iea.org/
http://www.climatemps.com/
http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/
https://www.statista.com
http://landartgenerator.org/
http://brightstarsolar.net/