die Sonne

An observation, which comes from a vacation I just took to Germany:

When you happen to find yourself on a train traveling from Munich, Germany to Salzburg, Austria, you have a lot of idyllic landscape to inhale.  But the stunning thing is that as you travel from one perfectly bucolic farm to the next, each rustically charming farmhouse (German: Farmhaus) you pass has one thing in common with its predecessors: a solar panel array on the most south-facing part of the roof.

Germany is a paragon of renewable power, to say the least.  It’s amazing what the right tax credits and incentives can do.  But the kicker lies in these two maps.

Pvgis_Europe-solar_opt_publication

NREL_USA_PV_map_hi-res_2008

These are equivalent maps — both show the total incident solar energy on a square meter solar panel tilted optimally towards the sun — but unfortunately, the colors don’t quite match up.  The map of Europe is in kWh/m²/year and the U.S. is in kWh/m²/day (hey, but at least it’s not hp/ft²/day, right?).  Multiplying the U.S.’s scale by 365.25 means the darkest red should be about 2447 kWh/m²/year — more than the darkest red of the Europe map.  The part of Germany I was traveling through on train is pretty solidly mindaro-colored, equivalent to about 1350 kWh/m²/year.  That works out to 3.70 kWh/m²/day, or a nice shade of emerald.

You know, emerald.  The same color as SEATTLE.

Pictured: our solar-powered future.

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