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Perspective on War

By Dave Jarvis

The United States has spent billions on the Iraq War. Think about this:

  • Estimated cost of war: $800,221,934,742
  • Average price of a solar panel: $369.03

That money could buy over 2.1 billion solar panels. Now consider:

  • The U.S.A. used 3.816 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2005.
  • Sunshine hits the continental United States an average of 7.31 hours per day.
  • At 180 watts, each panel would generate about 1.32 kWh per day.
  • Which is 2.772 billion kWh per day, or 1.11 trillion kWh per year.

That money could have paid for 27% of the United States' yearly electric bill.


Use the following form to estimate how much of the U.S. electrical needs could be met if funds spent on other things (like war) were invested in solar power. Here's what you need to know to use the calculator:

Panel Budget
Cost of the other thing that should have been spent on solar panels.
Panel Price
Cost of a solar panel.
Panel Watts
Electricity produced by one solar panel.
Daily Sunshine
Amount of sunlight a solar panel receives, on average.
Watts Used
Total electrical needs (of a country).

Solar Panel Power Calculator




Cloudy days, and indirect sunlight (i.e., sunrise and sunset) would reduce the actual amount of power generated. Conversely, new solar panel technology claims 40% efficiency compared with the 17% to 22% claimed by the solar panels reviewed for this text.

In 2004 there was 62.4 billion ft2 space available for roof-top solar panels, which is sufficient for the needs discussed.

The production and installation costs would reduce the actual number of solar panels that could be purchased; yet the price solar panels would plummet if manufactured in the millions.

Secondary Advantages

Decentralised electric power has other benefits:

  • No single point of failure.
  • Less electricity lost in transmission.
  • Lower electric bill.
  • Fewer power outages.
  • Above-ground power lines could be reduced.
  • Uses less wire, fewer poles, and fewer trees.
  • Remote areas are not an issue.
  • Curbs factory-based carbon-dioxide emissions.

As an indirect consequence, the mass production of on-grid solar panels would:

  • Decrease price of construction.
  • Increase power capacity per panel.
  • Become a major world-wide export product.
  • World-wide sales would reduce global emissions of carbon-dioxide.

Solar Panel Prices

Prices for 180W Photovoltaic (PV) cells on January 14, 2011:

Site Cost ($US)
SolarMaxDirect 405.00
DHgate 397.85
Renewable Energy Systems 499.00
Solar Sphere 395.97
Solar Systems 277.38
altE 239.00
Average 369.03

Prices for Photovoltaic (PV) cells on July 6, 2008:

Product Manufacturer Retailer Power
ES-180 Evergreen Solar Alternative Energy Store 180 16.09 839.11 52.15 4.66
NE-170U1 SHARP Infinigi 170 14.00 787.70 56.26 4.63
PV-TD180MF5 Mitsubishi Wholesale Solar 180 14.78 820.00 55.48 4.55
KD180GX-LP Kyocera Solar Wind & Sun 180 13.20 835.00 63.26 4.64
Averages 178 14.52 820.45 56.79 4.62

Prices for Photovoltaic (PV) cells on July 9, 2007:

Product Manufacturer Retailer Power
HIT 190 SANYO Ken Solar 190 12.69 1098.00 86.52 5.78
Sharp 185 SHARP Alter Systems 185 14.00 920.00 65.71 4.97
ES 190 Evergreen Solar Solar Electric Systems 190 16.09 925.00 57.49 4.87
Shell 175 Shell Solar Affordable Solar 175 14.24 873.00 61.31 4.78
Averages 185 14.25 954.00 67.76 5.10

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