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# Solar Turbines: How Many Solar Cells Would Be Required To Run Just One Laptop, And How Much Would The Solar Cells Cost? (3/6/2012)

It’s a pretty simple question. Only answer if it you actually have an idea. Thank you.

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MTRstudent March 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

Depends how long you run the laptop for in a day and where you live.

Assuming sufficient battery space to capture all the electricity, that your laptop uses 100W of power and you run it for 4hrs/day, then you need just under 150kWh/year. (to work it out for more or less use, just divide the 150 by 4 then multiply by number of hours per day).

In the UK, a kWp of solar power generates on average about 900kWh/year. In germany it’s about 1100kWh, in parts of California you can get over 2000kWh. So you need twice as many panels in the UK as in California.

In the UK you’d need about 180W of solar panel capacity. In commercial silicon this could be as little as 1 m^2, in thin film CdTe from FirstSolar it would be about 1.5m^2 of panel.

A fully installed home system in the UK works out at about £5-7,000 per kWp, so a rough estimate for cost would be £800-1200 (or £400-600 in California). However, prices are falling and thin film tech is much cheaper: First Solar are installing solar power stations at about £2,500/kWp. If you could access their tech you could do it for £400 in the UK or £200 in California.

This would produce enough electricity over the year, but the problem is that as you get further from the equator you generate proportionally less energy in winter. In the UK you can generate 3-4 times as much power in summer as in winter, so you could run your laptop on about £2-400 of panels in the summer, but you’d need £1600-2400 of panels in the winter.

In places like California, closer to the equator, the effect is much less pronounced.