Elon Musk: Use Spanish Solar Panels to Solve Europe’s Energy Crisis

Essay by Eric Worrall

“Even solar plus batteries on a small section of Spain would solve EU energy needs.”

Elon Musk Has Original Idea to Solve the Energy Crisis in Europe

The billionaire is the CEO of Tesla, the electric-vehicle maker pushing the auto industry to reduce its CO2 emissions.

DEC 29, 2022 6:01 PM EST

Europe discovered a new reality this winter: energy rationing.

No matter which European country you are in, the inhabitants explain to you how they must save energy because of the energy crisis hitting the Continent.

Elon Musk seems to agree and even says that installing solar panels in a small area of Spain would be enough to solve the energy problems of the EU.

“The total area of solar panels it would take to power the world, Europe, and Germany. This map is from Nadine May’s thesis,” the Twitter user tweeted on Dec. 27.

“Such an obvious move!” Musk commented.

And then the CEO of Tesla added that: “Even solar plus batteries on a small section of Spain would solve EU energy needs.”

Read more: https://www.thestreet.com/technology/elon-musk-has-original-idea-to-solve-the-energy-crisis-in-europe

Spain is one of the sunniest places in Europe, but even Spain sees a drop from a peak of over 300 hours of sunlight per month in Summer, to around 150 hours of sunlight per month in Winter. Spain also has substantial periods of bad weather – last March Spanish solar output was 50% below normal thanks to bad weather.

I’m not sure how many batteries would be required to tide Europe through a month of poor Spanish solar output, but I’m guessing it would be a lot.

The biggest problem though, Musk’s idea isn’t original. Spain already tried solar energy.

A decade ago, Spain was all set to be the solar power mecca of Europe. Then the solar push collapsed, 62,000 mom and pop investors went bankrupt, after the Spanish Government ran out of other people’s money.

Investors are still fighting court battles, trying to get compensation from the Spanish Government.

I’m guessing the solar crash was too recent, it is probably a little early for Spain to go through all that pain again, unless Musk plans to personally put up all the cash.

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January 2, 2023 2:05 pm

And how do you deal with the power losses over distance?

Last edited 1 month ago by Sparko
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 2, 2023 4:15 pm

Wait, wait, wait. . . high power DC lines?! Do you mean Edison was right all along that DC transmission was more efficient than AC? Tesla was wrong after all? Why are we still using AC transmission?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 2, 2023 5:28 pm

Hmmmm. . . pretty cool. Hang out on the interwebs and you get smarter every day.

May Contain Traces of Seafood
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 2, 2023 6:07 pm

Telsa was right at the time about a lot of things – like the Death Ray he had in a shoe box.

Telsa was a lot of things in his life and in his legacy. It is appropriate that we continue to discuss and assess exactly what those things are, rather that auto assuming everything was Edison’s fault.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 2, 2023 7:48 pm

Radiative losses at 50Hz??? Unless the conductors are spaced miles apart, the radiation resistance will be far less than ohmic resistance.

The advantages of of HVDC over HVAC transmission is lower corona losses and no problems with skin effect. With AC, there may be some losses due to induced ground currents.

Getting back to Musk’s idea – getting above an insignificant fraction of Europe’s electric generation capacity would involve a large number of long transmission lines and several years worth of Tesla’s battery production.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
January 3, 2023 3:04 am

I think we’re talking centuries of production. Europe would need of the order of 500TWh of storage. Tesla produced 2.1GWh of megapacks in Q3 2022.

Reply to  Nevada_Geo
January 2, 2023 7:12 pm

Because converting between the very high voltages needed for efficient transmission is far, far easier with AC than DC – it only really became practical in the 1980s, and even now its expensive to do.

Bryan A
Reply to  steveastrouk2017
January 2, 2023 10:08 pm

Regardless the “Map” from Nadine May’s thesis used to conclude that only a small amount of solar panels could power the world is vastly lacking. First it indicates an area about 1/2 the area of Tunisia. About 80,000 sq km.
Topaz Solar Farm covers 25 sq km with a nameplate of 550 MW but has a 26% annual capacity factor so produces a little over 132MW hourly (when the sun is at or near optimum). 80,000 sq km is like 3200 Topaz facilities. That’s barely 422,400 MW per hour. But Solar only produces this 4 hours per day.
According to the solarpanelsnetwork the USA alone would need over 85,000 sq mi (sq mi not sq km) just for current electricity needs.
I believe that it would really take more than 6 times that because we use electricity more than 4 hours per day. And you would need to generate ALL your daily need in 4 hours plus charge your evening battery supply at the same time.
Then even more would be needed to replace energy used in transportation, heating, cooking and other non electric FF sourced energy demands and their required battery back-up.
And More would be needed to replace line loss and other inefficiencies inherent in the system.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 3, 2023 6:35 am

From Russia that would have been much shorter.

Too bad the US/UK led NATO-long-term-aim of weakening Russia, ended up weakening/screwing Europe big time, by burdening it with high cost energy, which will make Europe uncompetitive in world markets.

More wind and solar and batteries would further deepen the $black hole Europe is in.

michael hart
Reply to  wilpost
January 3, 2023 8:18 am

Yup. At the time of the Boston Marathon bombers the Russian security agencies were warning the US about the two guys who did it. They were clearly ignored.

How did we manage to f up a potentially good, or at least cordial, relationship?
By breaking the promises about NATO expansion.

Now further self-inflected wounds of energy supply are making Europeans poorer and colder as Russia cozies up to China instead. It’s a home-made disaster on every front.

Reply to  michael hart
January 3, 2023 12:59 pm

Russia promised to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
This is the third time that Russia has invaded parts of the Ukraine.

Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2023 2:22 pm

But the US/UK/EU conducted a Ukraine coup d’Etat in 2014, by ousting an elected President, who had to flee for his life.

Then, from 2014 to 2022, Neo-NAZI gangs, financed by oligarchs, and later the Ukraine Army, financed, weaponized and trained by NATO, bombed and killed 12,000 Ukrainians in Dombas, East Ukraine, who did not want to be part of the “new” Ukraine; Kiev told them, they were no longer allowed to speak Russian, which had been their mother tongue for at least 400 years

John Hultquist
Reply to  Sparko
January 2, 2023 6:01 pm
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 3, 2023 7:35 am

Very informative link John.

But again, they still don’t tell us whether the blue wire should be connected to the red wire or the black wire.

We know the Green wire doesn’t do anything else but connect us to Mother Earth, which is why it is designated Green.

January 2, 2023 2:17 pm

Great idea if Spain wants to be the largest trash dump in the world. And I highly doubt only a small area of Spain would be needed. There’s a reason we have so much oil and gas and coal on the planet—so that we can use it.

Reply to  Decaf
January 2, 2023 2:58 pm

The Green blight.

Bruce Cobb
January 2, 2023 2:33 pm

“Such an obvious move!” Musk commented.
Yeah, just like buying Twitter was such an “obvious move”.

Rick C
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 2, 2023 5:02 pm

He’ll need the battery market to recoup his losses when Tesla cars stop selling.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 3, 2023 6:48 am

Musk’s Twitter will put a fresh set of teeth in the US Constitution, such as restoring freedoms of free speech, the right to bear arms, freedom from unwarranted/illegal search and seizure, invasion of privacy, including digital privacy,.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 3, 2023 7:47 am

Just unplugging it would have been a better development.

Like we used to do with those CD players that developed a random squawk with every track.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 2:51 pm

Elon is a bright guy and he is absolutely right. Spain, with enough batteries could meet all of Europe’s energy needs. About $100 trillion worth. Europe’s energy needs are about the same as US needs, and Spain is about the same latitude as southern California so for estimating purposes to determine feasibility it’s a god staring point,

Copy: “Topaz Solar Farm (550 MW), California”.
Location: Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County
Nameplate capacity: 550 MWAC
Annual net output: 1,282 GW·h, 272 MW·h/acre
Construction cost: $2.4 billion



Annual net output: 1,282 GW·h, 272 MW·h/acre


Construction cost: $2.4 billion



USA consumed 4000 tera-watt in 2021
The Topaz solar farm produces 1.2 tera-watt/year (30% capacity factor)
4000/1.2 = 3333 Topaz size wind farms at $2.4 billion each
$8 trillion
Battery storage is $400 KWh, $400,000 MWh, $400,000,000 GWh,
$400,000,000,000 ($400 billion TWh)
Data on the internet suggests one (1) month of storage for renewables
4,000 TW/ 12 months = 333 TWh required storage (300 TWh nominal)
$400 billion/TWh x 300 TWh storage = $120,000 billion ($120 trillion)

Grid scale storage packets without the batteries cost $200,000 MWh for the site prep,
Labor, enclosures, switch gear, fire suppression and more. So, if the batteries were
free the storage would “only be” $60 trillion. Not that it matters, it will never happen.
The economy would collapse long before we got “halfway” to all (ruinous) renewables.
N2N, natural gas to nuclear with small scale modular leading the way (see NuScale Website).

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 3:24 pm

You state that Spain is at about the same latitude as California. But, you cite San Luis Opisbo county. The eponymous city is at 35 degrees. The Spanish city of Granada at the southern end of the country is at 37. So the solar farm you cite is a best case scenario.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 2, 2023 10:42 pm

Oh, oh, $100 trillion’s not enough.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 3:26 pm

Are those numbers electricity only at current consumption or do they include conversion to BEV and heat pumps?

John Tillman
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 3:41 pm

European Spain lies in the latitude of northern CA and southern Oregon, ie 36 to 44 N.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  John Tillman
January 2, 2023 4:27 pm

Why limit it to Europe. The goal is all solar everywhere (plus a dribble from hydro and a few puffs from wind):
Let’s save the planet and run it on just solar, all is needed is 150 million acres. Let’s ignore the storage cost until we’re sure we want to stay with the solar plan. We’ll just calculate storage for the US (see earlier today). We don’t want to scare people off with “big numbers”.

The World consumes 24,000 tera-watt hours of electricity annually.
One square kilometer of solar panels produces 100 mWh per year
1000sq km x 1000 sq km = 1,000,000 sq km (1 million sq km)
1 million sq km provides 1,000,000 sq km x 100 mWh = 100,000,000 mWh
=100 tera-watt per year per million acres
24,000 tw/100 million mWh=240 million sq km.
One sq kw contains 100 hectares
240 million/100 = 24 million hectares to produce the world’s electricity

Electricity is 20% of total annual world energy consumption
Therefore, 24 million x 5 = 100 million (nominal) hectares (120 million calculated)
Reactance and resistance at a conservative15% = 100+15= 115 hectares
Every engineering design needs a factor of safety for emergency/accidents/operational upsets: a super conservative 10% brings the total to > 125 million hectares
One hectare contains 2.47 acres x 125 million hectares = 300 (nominal) million acres
Don’t like my 100 mWh per sq km per year? OK, let’s make it 200 mWh = 150 million acres. Still not satisfied? Super ideal 30% capacity factor (CF) site in Southern Cali: 273 MwH/acre (let’s call it 300 mWh)=100 million acres.

But if all the panels are going to be installed around the planet in those two narrow strips of comparable sunshine, and you’re not floating them in the ocean, then the reactive/resistance value of 15% must be adjusted (25%?).
Note 1: Texas is 172 million acres.
Note 2: Any location north of 45 degrees North latitude (Canada, UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Russia etc) the CF for solar is < 15% and realistically if renewables are “required” then 30-45% CF wind generation is “less horrible” than solar.
Copy: “Topaz Solar Farm (550 MW), California”.
Location: Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County
Nameplate capacity: 550 MWAC
Annual net output: 1,282 GW·h, 272 MW·h/acre
Construction cost: $2.4 billion

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 11:18 pm

You say
One sq kw contains 100 hectares
240 million/100 = 24 million hectares to produce the world’s electricity

Did you mean?
One sq km contains 100 hectares
240 million*100 = 24 billion hectares to produce the world’s electricity

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 4, 2023 6:42 pm

Yes, thanks. I put that out a little too quickly. I used some bad data sources and also made some errors. One of these days I’ll clean it up. Bottom line it’s takes about twice the area of Texas for enough solar panels to power the world so it’s not ever going to happen. N2N Natural Gas to Nuclear.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 5, 2023 12:38 pm

These should be better numbers
Copy: “Topaz Solar Farm (550 MW), California”.
Location: Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County
Nameplate capacity: 550 MWAC Capacity factor 27%
Topaz Solar Farm has 9 million solar panels occupying an area of 4700 acres. It has 9 million CdTe solar panels installed.
1900 hectares (19 sq km) 4,700 acres, (7.43 sq miles)
 1.3 tWh annual production
1.3/1900=0.000684 twh annual per hectare:  0.0684 tWh per sq km (68 gWh/sq km) 68,000 MWh/yr
World electrical consumption 26,000 twh:  
26000/0.0684 =380,000 sq km, 38 million hectares (147,000 sq miles) (94 million acres)
World consumes 145,000 twh equivalent, 5.75 greater than electrical only
380,000 * 5.75= 2,190,000 sq km, 219,000,000 hectares, x 2.47=540 million acres, total energy (>3x size of Texas)

It doesnot add up
Reply to  John Tillman
January 3, 2023 5:16 am

This chart shows typical hourly solar capacity factors for Spain on a monthly basis. Data are downloadable, and sufficient for making ballpark estimates of the required capacity and storage if you assemble a similar demand picture.


Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 3:51 pm

Take a look at what the acreage coverage to cover the formerly pristine Carrizo Plain was actually required for 1.2 gigawatts of intermittant power. And it’s not the only one.


Reply to  doonman
January 2, 2023 3:58 pm

Then take a look at the Diablo Canyon acreage needed to produce 2.2 gigawatts of 24/7 power.


Last edited 1 month ago by doonman
Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  doonman
January 2, 2023 10:48 pm

Annual net output: 1,282 GW·h, 272 MW·h/acre=4,713 acres about 7 square miles, insane.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 4:18 pm

Europe’s energy needs can’t be anywhere near the same as the US. The EU has persuaded them all to reduce their energy use, while we profligately waste it. (is a /sarc needed?)

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 2, 2023 6:24 pm

Why not look into Concentrate solar Power, it doesn’t use cobalt, doesn’t use lithium, doesn’t use Chinese solar panels and works at night, there is an operating plant in Morocco called Ouarzazate Solar Power Station.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  dbparks0@gmail.com
January 4, 2023 6:29 pm

“works at night”,must have storage (molten salt?) The US Ivanpah mirror/tower/solar does but about 1/3rd of its annual output is from the natural gas required to keep the salt war overnight. What’s Ouarzazate’s trick?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 3, 2023 3:26 am

I ran some numbers on the US for last year taking hourly wind, solar and and required PV capademand data from EIA. An all solar solution backed by batteries requires a lot more storage and PV capacity (over 2.2TW). It also entails a lot of extra grid capacity to route the solar output to storage and back out again if you use remote storage (e.g. hydrogen, pumped hydro). It entails over 600TWh of round trip losses assuming a 75% efficiency which allows some extra transmission losses. The storage requirement and losses and PV capacity requirement escalate if you use hydrogen.

US demand is summer peaked because of aircon demand which implies less need for storage than Europe would need, with its winter demand peak needing more interseasonal storage.

US Lower 48 wind solar.png
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 3, 2023 7:02 am

You did not mention a few factors

The all-in, turnkey cost is about $500/kWh, 2022 pricing. See URL
Available capacity 0.6
Tesla design factor for larger systems 0.93

The life of the system would be about 15 years, if operated within 20% full to 80% full, in a temperature controlled environment

The round trip losses, from HV grid to HV grid, would be about 20%, which has to be made up with additional solar panel and/or wind turbines.

100 billion kWh x 1/0.6 x 1/0.93 x $500/kWh = $89.6 billion, JUST FOR THE BATTERY SYSTEMS



Reply to  wilpost
January 3, 2023 7:15 am

The $89.6 billion should read $89.6 TRILLION

John Kelly
January 2, 2023 3:22 pm

I love what Musk has done with Twitter but with this idea he is back to his rent-seeking best.

January 2, 2023 3:39 pm

Selling battery storage is in Elon’s best interest.

Reply to  doonman
January 2, 2023 5:46 pm

‘Influencers’ like Musk and that mysoginystic dribbledick Tate come from a conga line of ‘snake oil’ sellers going back a long, long time. The founder of the tradition being of course Satan with his ‘free apples for all’ scam back in the day. Dunno what Satan’s ‘self interest’ was apart from creating a movement and future recruits for Hell but that sort of thing seems to be the gig for these creeps.

May Contain Traces of Seafood
Reply to  ClimateBear
January 2, 2023 6:42 pm

Interesting. Not really heard Elon and Tate mentioned in the same sentence. Not saying I don’t agree, just rarely seen the linking.

To be honest I didn’t really know much about Tate until he got banned (aka – the Streisand Effect), so going on a fair bit of hearsay.

To be frank SOME of what Tate says makes sense. SOME. I can also see how/why he has managed to get a following. There is a generation plus of men who have been constantly told they are toxic just for having a hairy chest and liking beer. Tate comes along and tells them there is a way to grow your balls back and hundreds of thousands of Involuntary SoyBoys sit up and listen.

The problem with Tate is that rather than then being a role model (good/bad/indifferent) to these boys and young men, he has become a market for them to buy from.

A Fool An His Money? Or, Exploiting the Vulnerable? Open question. Personally I think he is just another Thot on TicTok scamming money off the Simps.

Musk? Never been a big fan. I think he talks the big talk that people want to hear and while his big ideas may be ‘well meaning’, a lot of them are just talk. Take the Boring Company, for instance. What did that ever achieve? Personally I would go as far to say he was openly lying about what that part of his empire was even doing and basically Musk is just another man with hobbies he starts and gets bored with, just on a far more expensive scale.

People give Musk a LOT of slack cause he is [insert amazing thing here] in order to ‘Save the Planet(tm)’ and because he has managed to completely piss off the Left with what he is doing with Twit. However he didn’t get to be richest (second richest now?) in the world by running all his businesses as charities. There is still a large part of Musk’s personal motivation that says “yeah, I like being rich.”

And what was one of the methods he used to get rich? Telling people to back him over all others cause he – and only he – knew how to get things done.

Musk pissed off Twitter – Good. The Twits deserve to have their pillow fort kicked down.

Tate trolled Greta – Amusing. We got to see the ‘wit’ of whoever runs her Twit account and then make jokes about pizza.

Doesn’t mean I automatically play the Enemy of My Enemy card and start pinning Musk and Tate posters on my bedroom wall.

People are a sum of all their actions, not the content of their most recent Twit post.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  May Contain Traces of Seafood
January 3, 2023 5:43 pm

He who has a Tate is lost…

Michael in Dublin
January 2, 2023 3:40 pm

My son has a Soladine 700w Photovoltaic Panel – which was installed on all the houses built on a new housing estate. In Dublin we only have 1450 hours of sunshine per year with much of this at a low angle. I have been unable to find a simple explanation online to work out the real cost and benefit or more likely loss of having solar panels. Being a new house it is well insulated but I doubt the solar panels are worth it. Perhaps one of the WUWT readers can point to or give a short and simple explanation to help those of us who are non technical to do the sums. This will help us challenge those pushing solar panels as a solution in more northerly countries.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 2, 2023 4:33 pm

The most basic loss of power with a PV module is the cosine effect—which driven by two vectors. One vector points to the sun’s position in the sky, and the other is perpendicular to the surface of the module. When the module is pointing directly at the sun, the angle between the two vectors is zero. The cosine of zero is one, so there is no power loss at this orientation. If the sun is 60 degrees from perpendicular, the cosine of 60 is 0.5 and half the available input energy is lost. At 80 degrees the loss increases to over 80%.

How does one pick a mounting angle for a PV module? The answer is that it depends. To maximize annual energy production, the rule-of-thumb is to set the module at an angle equal to the site latitude (and facing the equator of course). But if increasing the amount of power during winter is important, point the module at a spot lower on the horizon.

One of the two big issues with residential roof-mounted PV is that the system designers/installers place them on whatever roof surface(s) is available, many times not even toward the equator. On shallow-pitched roofs in temperate latitudes, this makes the winter power production almost nil. If the system is facing east, power production during the afternoon goes to essentially zero.

The other problem is that when mounted directly onto asphalt or ceramic tiles, the modules run very hot and lose a lot of efficiency.

Hope this helps.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  karlomonte
January 3, 2023 3:48 am

At lower sun angles (higher latitudes) solar power is attenuated by passing through a greater thickness of atmosphere, even if the panel is aimed ideally and there is no cloud.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 3, 2023 6:28 pm

True, but most of the attenuation caused by longer path lengths is molecular and aerosol scattering, which causes diffuse sky radiation to increase; the acceptance angle of PV modules is wide enough to collect significant amounts of diffuse radiation.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 2, 2023 5:14 pm
May Contain Traces of Seafood
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 2, 2023 6:13 pm

Simple – when you get a massive hail storm the solar panels act as an ablative shield to protect your roof tiles, hence saving you on flooding insurance 😀

Probably. 🙂

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  May Contain Traces of Seafood
January 4, 2023 8:32 am

I follow a forum that has a lot of electrical contractors who do a fair number of solar installs. Their experience is that even in Texas, where the hailstones are Texas-sized, there is very little breakage. In some cases, the panels do, in fact, protect the roofs.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 2, 2023 6:14 pm

Rooftop solar economics can make sense for some homeowners. Many of my neighbors have it because:

  1. We live in California with lots of sunshine.
  2. They have the cash to install solar.
  3. Utility rates for power are sky high and 3 times the national average.

I don’t because I would need to spend $25k on a partial reroof first (it’s not smart to install solar on an old roof). And I’d have to borrow the money. And at 70 years old, I will quite likely be dead before I get my money back.

Peter K
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 3, 2023 2:11 am

Hi Michael, in your case, Ireland, it is all about dimensioning. I’m in quite similar situation as you, in Slovakia, difference between Ireland and Slovakia is around 30%. I checked I can get around 1,2MWh from 1kWp panel, you can get around 0,96MWh from 1kWp panel. That means your son can get ideally 0,67MWh from his panel.
I have 3,3kWp system on my house, and it is getting me around 3MWh yearly.
It is actually very nice as total consumption on my family house with 5 members is 4,6MWh.
True is that during 2 winter months I’m getting almost zero.
I invested around 3700E to the system, it is returning around 450E yearly.
I’m using physical battery and for me sweet spot for returning money is having 2,5kWh battery. This has enough juice to hold one dishwasher cycle and and one washing machine cycle. But it is allowing me to get 90% of my energy consumption from solar during half year.
Heating is another beast, with current prices of panels, batteries it is not very worth of it.
But not impossible, with proper dimensioning, in my case 15kWp panels, your around 20kWp panels it would be possible to get most of energy for heating from heat pump or air conditioning.
If you have well insulated house with maximum winter energy need around 40kWh per day, that means you need around 10kWh of energy to get that (with COP 4).
20kWh system is able to get you around 30kWh on sunny day around 21st December, and around 4,5kWh on average overcast day
So it is quite possible to work with that.. 20kWhp will give you enough energy to heat from September till mid November and from mid February till May. November, December, January it can give you somewhere around 60% of heating energy.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 3, 2023 3:43 am

Try looking at the reported actual output of systems in Dublin here:


This one looks interesting:


It seems to include a number of months offline, perhaps awaiting a new inverter. One of the hazards of solar.

Peter K
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 3, 2023 4:19 am

Actually I used this tool to check average solar output for any chosen place:
Compare it wit gains in Slovakia:

Have on mind that this system is more than 2x biger than one in your links. So gains are practically same, 30% difference is very possible.
This corresponds with what I said earlier, that 2 months are gains close to zero. And heating is on the edge of possible.
Does not change that it is possible to save around 80% of your electric energy consumption yearly.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Peter K
January 3, 2023 4:26 am

The Europa data are theoretical: the Sunnyportal data give real experience – in this case over several years. You can get a really good month one year, and be disappointed the next year.

Peter K
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 3, 2023 5:19 am

Yes, from your link I found that Ireland is actually better for solar in winter than Europe mainland few degrees south.
Around 110kWh from 2,86kWp system in December is quite good.
That corresponds to 769kWh from 20kWp system in December, 24kWh daily.
Maybe directly enough for perfectly insulated house heating. Or when using heat pump with COP 5, it is in theory getting 120kWh of heat daily, perfect to heat up practically any decently insulated house.
That is worst month of the year.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Peter K
January 3, 2023 6:31 am

Other Decembers were not so good. Particularly 2018.

January 2, 2023 4:19 pm

But in Spain, they can get solar power 24 hours per day.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 2, 2023 4:41 pm

They did with diesel generators.

May Contain Traces of Seafood
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 2, 2023 6:20 pm

Semi related, sat though a car ad last night on the YouTubes for a hybrid.

As the happy owners holidayed on the beach the voice over proudly told us that the car had not one by TWO 240V (Australian advert) power outlets, so you could plug in your appliances anywhere your car can go.

So, I thought, what you are basically saying is your car comes with a built in IC powered generator?

(also – I like these ads. Get a planet saving hybrid vehicle, and then you can spend more time holidaying in the bush. Didn’t the Guardian moan about that recently? Making savings and then spending the savings on something new? Irony lost on some of these people.)

Chris Hanley
January 2, 2023 4:36 pm

Elon Musk seems to agree and even says that installing solar panels in a small area of Spain would be enough to solve the energy problems of the EU.”The total area of solar panels it would take to power the world, Europe, and Germany. This map is from Nadine May’s thesis,” the Twitter user tweeted on Dec. 27.

Whatever the merits of Nadine May’s thesis or otherwise someone doesn’t know where Spain is because the accompanying map in the article shows areas in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Neil Jordan
January 2, 2023 4:37 pm

Some solar panels work at night.
Spanish solar panels also work at night, and not just on April 1st.

Reply to  Neil Jordan
January 3, 2023 7:09 am

Owners used diesel engines to get very high capacity factors, and collect more state subsidies, which were based on production.

Naive bureaucrats were ecstatic, until they had to admit they had been fooled by private enterprisers.

Mr David Guy-Johnson
January 2, 2023 4:41 pm

He’s after a market for his batteries

Chris Hanley
January 2, 2023 5:08 pm

Why doesn’t Musk run his giga-factories on solar panels and batteries?

January 2, 2023 5:18 pm

Why do we all get het up when Musk farts? Boasting that you can deal with acres of absurdly large and small figures doesn’t really get any of us anywhere. A simple “There, there, Musk, — off to bed you go” would do nicely.

Reply to  cognog2
January 2, 2023 5:55 pm

Unfortunately, there are many people who eat this @##$$% up and believe every fanciful word he utters. Their argument to authority cerebral centers, peg and bury the needle into the stop bending it around keeping it from returning. After that the delusion continues unabated no mater how much data, math or reality is given

January 2, 2023 5:21 pm

I thought the “rain in Spain staid mainly in the plane”. So where do the solar panels go to escape it?. Maybe Elon Knows………

Unfortunately, statements like this from Elon and the like only reinforces the low resolution thinking of people wanting this stuff to work. I had a significant argument in the comment section of YouTube over this very issue, and the clinging to authority was astonishing. I gave calculations, examples and reality in production, costs, and materials, however this argument to authority would not let go. They could not refute the numbers, but said I was just too stupid to see the big picture that Elon could. My response was then to show me were mu math and data used within them were wrong, and was just met with more Ad Hominem arguments. I just said it was time to stop fighting this level of voluntary ignorance, and resolved to stop trying to present reality.

I just wish these type unreasonable statements would stop from people that should know better. If you want to say something profound, at least increase the resolution of your thought process to the point of being something other than a 5th grader.

January 2, 2023 6:04 pm

Sounds a lot like something that someone in the business of selling batteries would say.

It’s “possible”, but at a cost that is just inconceivable.

John Oliver
January 2, 2023 6:19 pm

Even people people that seem very intelligent and logical can have “mental emotional blocks” when something they have advocated becomes “their baby” It is a very prevalent phenomenon amongst inventors. These individuals usually start telling themselves “ we just need to work the bugs out” or just a little more “ tweaking or we just need the rest of the technology to catch up with us, etc etc

Andy Pattullo
January 2, 2023 7:04 pm

This is more evidence that being intelligent (as Musk seems to be) is not a guarantee of being right, Anyway isn’t Spain the country that found a way to produce “solar energy” at night using clandestine diesel generators? All very questionable. My voted is for gas, coal and nuclear because I believe the laws of physics aren’t negotiable.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
January 2, 2023 7:57 pm

The green Green myth persists through out-of-sight and out-of-mind new deals.

January 2, 2023 7:08 pm

Didn’t Spain solve the solar/battery issue previously? If I’m remembering correctly, all they had to do was run diesel flood lights pointed at the panels and everything came together…

Reply to  spetzer86
January 2, 2023 7:55 pm

But only in an emergency, from dusk to dawn, low yield insolation, and transitory visual impairments.

January 2, 2023 7:19 pm

Musk on V2G for all that visionary Spanish solar-

“It will be problematic if you get to the morning, and instead of being charged, (the car) has discharged,” Musk said. “It will be better to have a Powerwall and a car operating separately. Then everything works.”


So halt Tesla car production and switch to Powerwall and large scale grid battery production you reckon Elon?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  observa
January 4, 2023 9:03 am

Musk has reasonably identified the problem and general case solution. Resource availability to implement the solution is another thing entirely.

January 2, 2023 7:26 pm

We “officially” have around 190 MW of solar during the night in France, so…

Steve Richards
Reply to  niceguy12345
January 3, 2023 5:16 am

Just looked and it seemed to be only producing solar electric during daylight!

January 2, 2023 8:24 pm

But Spain tried an all-renewable system on El Hierro Island in the Canaries. The most the system produces is just over half of demand and, when the weather isn’t right, none. The island still
has diesel generators that meet about half of demand on average, and all.of it some of the time. So try your thing there Elon. If it works I will believe too. But not before.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Denis
January 3, 2023 4:20 am

It was never designed to be an all renewables system, but they did hope to get to around 60-65% on average, which is about the practical limit before curtailment starts to rise rapidly. The pumped storage system they have has inadequate capacity, limited by the small lower reservoir. In practice it is often used as stabilisation rather than storage, with water being pumped up one penstock and run down the other simultaneously to balance gusty wind.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 3, 2023 5:14 am

Th cost is already ridiculously high. The place for the higher reservoir was a geological gift. Had they built a reservoir themselves, the cost would astronomical.

Renewable is an ill defined concept. But the best definition we have is “nature gift” and “free”.

Building stuff is the opposite of renewable.

(Sun tanning is the best renewable thing I can describe. It doesn’t produce electricity.)

It doesnot add up
Reply to  niceguy12345
January 3, 2023 5:57 am

The upper reservoir had to be lined. Initially it leaked. The sorry history can be found here


Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 3, 2023 5:55 am

The Spanish government claimed the system would, as it was being built, provide all the island’s power. You can look this up.

Reply to  Denis
January 3, 2023 5:07 am

El Hierro was the “renewables” propaganda model for French “science” school books (editors of these books are Education Ministry whores). They even omitted the diesel part!
Science “education” is mostly a brainwashing operation.

Not only it doesn’t work, the water reservoir is insufficient, will never be sufficient… they now admit that it would have been better without the hydro part.

January 2, 2023 10:00 pm

As I would expect mist people to understand, the change on solar power output between summer and winter is highly dependent on the height of the sun above the horizon. The hours per month of sunlight and the weather also impact solar power production. The winter solar production of my 3.12 kW PV system averages about 30% of the summer production.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  isthatright
January 4, 2023 2:11 am

The percentage will vary according to location and from one year to another. Locations close to the equator can be surprisingly disappointing because of cloud cover.

Right-Handed Shark
January 3, 2023 12:44 am

Last I heard, Spain were building a third interconnector to Morocco. Why? (a hint: it’s not so Spain can sell Morocco Their spare solar generation)

Musk thinks EV’s are a good idea, and batteries can back up the grids of entire continents.

Musk is an idiot.

Who knew?

Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
January 3, 2023 5:16 am

Musk is a rock star. With the attributes of a star.
A technology rock star, but still a rock star.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
January 3, 2023 6:18 am

There is of course this nutty scheme


I imagine it will endure frequent and prolonged cable breaks.

Peta of Newark
January 3, 2023 1:55 am

Quote:”Europe discovered a new reality this winter: energy rationing.

How long before people wake up and start blaming Germany for this entire debacle leading into disaster – it cannot ‘end well’ can it?

Elon cannot say anything else can he.
He sees a huuuuuge potential market for the batteries he’s making and why not – wouldn’t you do the same in his position?

January 3, 2023 2:38 am

Yesterday Solar power in Spain was only working at 6% of capacity


To get enough power to supply Europe in winter, you’d need so many solar panels that about three quarters would be redundant in summer.

Either that, or trillions of batteries!

Mark Whitney
January 3, 2023 4:08 am

Schernikau and Smith estimate that it would require~45 TWh of battery storage for a 14 day backup just for Germany, which they say would require 4-5 times the current global battery production just for replacement once the existing infrastructure is established.
It would require a 6x increase in global lithium production, 22x global graphite rod production, 2x global cobalt production and 8x global nickel sulfate production to keep the battery backup scheme going in perpetuity. Again, that is just for Germany and only for 14 days.
Source: The Unpopular Truth About Electricity And The Future Of Energy pp. 51-52

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark Whitney
January 3, 2023 6:28 am

Spain would have a lot of solar power around midday during summers, except when it is overcast, and much less solar power during winter, and zero solar power during late-afternoon/early-evening (the usual period of peak demand), to about 8 am the NEXT DAY.

Spain would need at least 100 TWh (100 billion kWh) of storage to smooth the daily variations of solar output, so it can be fed into EU grids to provide power, in accordance with the daily electricity demand curves of various nations.

The all-in turnkey capital cost would be 100 billion kWh x 1/0.6, available capacity x 1/0.93, Tesla design factor x $500/kWh, 2022 pricing

The life of the system would be about 15 years, if operated within 20% full to 80% full, in a temperature controlled environment

The round trip losses, from HV grid to HV grid, would be about 20%, which has to be made up with additional solar panel or wind turbines.


Last edited 1 month ago by wilpost
michael hart
January 3, 2023 6:45 am

Presumably they will be those special Spanish solar cells that worked at night?

The cost of batteries is not only horrendously expensive, but very resource-intensive.
Elon should stick to the marketing and fixing Twitter.
Let the accountants do the accounting.

I’m pretty sure the people who are responsible for making the rockets rocket also don’t take direct orders from Elon.

January 3, 2023 7:15 am

Like all statements of this kind, you need a lot of “it depends”. Musk is right, of course, but first we need the batteries (current battery technologies are just not really up to the task) and it would help if we had solar panels that were more efficient and the wherewithal ($$$$$) to pay for it all, including transmission and conditioning.

The idea that the Sun could provide all the energy we need is true. We just don’t have the technology to capture and store and distribute that energy.

January 3, 2023 9:41 am

I don’t think Musk was talking of abandoning other sources of energy. He may have a point if he means to just fill the current shortfall. Europe is not devoid of energy, they just don’t have enough at the right times.

January 3, 2023 1:05 pm

Tesla is being fined by the Korean government for exaggerating the range of it’s vehicles during cold weather.


January 3, 2023 1:36 pm

you people with all your numbers, and calculations and sciency stuff. Sickening. Don’t you FEEL the pain mother GAIA is undergoing right now? The dwindling numbers of polar bares? The ice caps are mellting. Greta has lost her childhood! Shame on all of you.

whoever said ‘rent-seeking’ about musk nailed it.

Edward Katz
January 3, 2023 6:28 pm

If I recall my dates correctly, about a decade ago Spain went overboard on solar panels only to find they couldn’t meet energy demands, so they had to turn to imported North African natural gas to make up the shortfall. In other words, it didn’t provide consumers with clean power and wound up increasing emissions after all. In the end, the citizens had no complaints as long as there was enough power for heat, light, and cooking. Chances are good people worldwide would nurture the same sentiments.

January 3, 2023 8:02 pm

Well solar panels in Spain would work if they did it the same way as a few years ago. Their solar panels were so efficient they were ever generating electricity at night!

It took a while, but someone finally go suspicious and wondered how that could be, and investigated. Turns out the subsidies were so high, it paid them to run diesel generators at night and shine floodlights on the solar panels.

So yes, that method just might work for the rest of Europe too.

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