Ever-Increasing Solar Capacity
It would be an understatement to say that solar power has been growing in popularity as an energy source over the last several years. In 1996, the total capacity of installed photovoltaics in the United States was 77 megawatts. In 2018, according to SEIA, the United States reached 55.9 gigawatts of installed photovoltaic capacity.
So what does one do with 55.9 gigawatts of energy?
In the summer of 1985, a very specific unit of energy burst onto the American consciousness and never quite left it.
In Back to the Future, an iconic science fiction film from the mid-1980s, teenager Marty McFly is trapped in the 1950s and needs to harness 1.21 gigawatts of energy in order to power his way back to the decade of Reeboks and MTV. McFly and his eccentric pal, Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, rack their brains to come up with a way access that much energy at once.
So, while in 1955 the only way Doc Brown could harness 1.21 gigawatts of energy was—[spoiler alert]—a bolt of lightning, the good people at Buzzfeed have since come up with 11 things that can actually make 1.21 Gigawatts of power. And yes, solar panels are on the list.
The exact number of solar panels needed to generate 1.21 gigawatts would vary depending on the wattage of the panel, but the current installed solar capacity in the U.S. of 55.9 gigawatts would power 46 time-travel jaunts in the DeLorean.
Great Scott! Where would you go?