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How Much Land is Needed to Power the U.S. with Solar?



How much land would it take to power the U.S. with solar?

How Much Land is Needed to Power the U.S. with Solar?

The Biden administration has set a goal of reaching 100% clean electricity throughout the U.S. by 2035, and solar power is a key for this American energy transition.

In the last decade alone, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 42% in the U.S. thanks to federal tax credits, declining costs, and increasing demand. It is projected that more than one in seven American homes will have a solar power system by 2030.

To put this trend into perspective, this graphic uses data from the United States Department of Energy to see how much land would be needed to power the entire country with solar panels.

Solar Panels Across the Ocean State

The U.S. has 102.9 gigawatts of total solar installed capacity which is equivalent to 965 square miles, roughly the size of the country’s smallest state, Rhode Island. This current solar capacity generates enough electricity to power 18.6 million American homes, which is nearly 13% of the nation’s households.

According to a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, roughly 22,000 square miles of solar panel-filled land (about the size of Lake Michigan) would be required to power the entire country, including all 141 million households and businesses, based on 13-14% efficiency for solar modules.

Many solar panels, however, reach 20% efficiency, which could reduce the necessary area to just about 10,000 square miles, equivalent to the size of Lake Erie.

Solar Installations Spreading Across the States

Today, solar represents only 3% of the total U.S. electrical generation.

While California has traditionally dominated the market, other states like Florida and Texas are expanding rapidly, boosted by the residential market.

Large companies with clean energy goals such as Walmart, Apple, Target and Amazon have also helped push solar adoption to near-record levels in 2021.

How much land is needed to power the U.S. with solar?

Despite having a high installation cost, the technology tends to bring savings in the long term. An average-sized residential system has dropped from a price of $40,000 in 2010 to roughly $20,000 in 2020. Along with this, solar panels can save between $10,000-$30,000 over a 30-year lifetime.

Between land and rooftops, the United States has more than enough space to build all the solar panels necessary to power the country. Until then, the future of clean electricity will also depend on hydro, nuclear, geothermal, and wind energy.

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Will Direct Lithium Extraction Disrupt the $90B Lithium Market?

Visual Capitalist and EnergyX explore how direct lithium extraction could disrupt the $90B lithium industry.



Will Direct Lithium Extraction Disrupt the $90B Lithium Market?

Current lithium extraction and refinement methods are outdated, often harmful to the environment, and ultimately inefficient. So much so that by 2030, lithium demand will outstrip supply by a projected 1.42 million metric tons. But there is a solution: Direct lithium extraction (DLE).

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to try to understand how DLE could help meet global lithium demands and change an industry that is critical to the clean energy transition.

The Lithium Problem

Lithium is crucial to many renewable energy technologies because it is this element that allows EV batteries to react. In fact, it’s so important that projections show the lithium industry growing from $22.2B in 2023 to nearly $90B by 2030.

But even with this incredible growth, as you can see from the table, refined lithium production will need to increase 86.5% over and above current projections.

2022 (million metric tons)2030P (million metric tons)
Lithium Carbonate Demand0.461.21
Lithium Hydroxide Demand0.181.54
Lithium Metal Demand00.22
Lithium Mineral Demand0.070.09
Total Demand0.713.06
Total Supply0.751.64

The Solution: Direct Lithium Extraction

DLE is a process that uses a combination of solvent extraction, membranes, or adsorbents to extract and then refine lithium directly from its source. LiTASTM, the proprietary DLE technology developed by EnergyX, can recover an incredible 300% more lithium per ton than existing processes, making it the perfect tool to help meet lithium demands.

Additionally, LiTASTM can refine lithium at the lowest cost per unit volume directly from brine, an essential step in meeting tomorrow’s lithium demand and manufacturing next-generation batteries, while significantly reducing the footprint left by lithium mining.

Hard Rock MiningUnderground ReservoirsDirect Lithium Extraction
Direct CO2 Emissions15,000 kg5,000 kg3.5 kg
Water Use170 m3469 m334-94 m3
Lithium Recovery Rate58%30-40%90%
Land Use464 m23124 m20.14 m2
Process TimeVariable18 months1-2 days

Providing the World with Lithium

DLE promises to disrupt the outdated lithium industry by improving lithium recovery rates and slashing emissions, helping the world meet the energy demands of tomorrow’s electric vehicles.

EnergyX is on a mission to become a worldwide leader in the sustainable energy transition using groundbreaking direct lithium extraction technology. Don’t miss your chance to join companies like GM and invest in EnergyX to transform the future of renewable energy.

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Chart: The $400 Billion Lithium Battery Value Chain

In this graphic, we break down where the $400 billion lithium battery industry will generate revenue in 2030.




Breaking Down the $400 Billion Battery Value Chain

As the world transitions away from fossil fuels toward a greener future, the lithium battery industry could grow fivefold by 2030. This shift could create over $400 billion in annual revenue opportunities globally.

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to determine how the battery industry could grow by 2030.

Exploring the Battery Value Chain

The lithium battery value chain has many links within it that each generate their own revenue opportunities, these include:

  • Critical Element Production: Involves the mining and refining of materials used in a battery’s construction.
  • Active materials: Creating and developing materials that react electrochemically to allow batteries to charge and discharge.
  • Battery cells: Involves the production of rechargeable elements of a battery.
  • Battery packs: Producing packs containing a series of connected battery cells. Generally, these come in two types: NMC/NMCA, the standard in North America and Europe, and LFP, the standard in China.
  • Recycling: Reusing battery components within new batteries.

But these links aren’t equal, each one is projected to generate different levels of revenue by 2030:

China 🇨🇳Europe 🇪🇺United States 🇺🇸Rest of World 🌍
Critical Element Production$37B$25B$15B$8B
Active Materials$54B$31B$14B$11B
Battery Packs$34B$22B$11B$7B
Battery Cells$53B$37B$20B$11B

On the surface, battery cell production may contribute the most revenue to the battery value chain. However, lithium production can generate margins as high as 65%, meaning lithium production has potential to yield large margins.

How Much Lithium Is Available?

Just a few countries hold 81% of the world’s viable lithium. So, supply bottlenecks could slow the growth of the lithium battery industry:

NationViable Lithium Reserves (2023)
Chile 🇨🇱9.3M t
Australia 🇦🇺6.2M t
Argentina 🇦🇷2.7M t
China 🇨🇳2M t
U.S. 🇺🇸1M t
Rest of World 🌍4.9M t

Supplying the World With Batteries

Supplying the world with lithium is critical to the battery value chain and a successful transition from fossil fuels. Players like the U.S. and the EU, with increasingly large and growing lithium needs, will need to maximize local opportunities and work together to meet demand.

EnergyX is on a mission to become a world leader in the global transition to sustainable energy, using cutting-edge direct lithium extraction to help supply the world with lithium.

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