Displays vs Solar Cells!

I promised a follow-up post on the total flat panel display (FPD) production. CES week, where manufacturers unveil their latest monstrous TVs, is good timing!

The current production of FPDs is about 70 million square meters per year. That is the equivalent of 150 million 42″ TVs– some of it of course going into iPhones and the like. For some perspective, let’s show what production output that looks like in my neighborhood (Cambridge), tiled into a giant screen:

Annual Flat Panel TV Production... and Likely Content!

It turns out the total square area of solar cells produced annually is about the same (70 square kilometers). [Side note: shows power of consumer demand pull vs. government regulatory push– cells are now $150/m^2 vs TVs at $1000/m^2]

So what is the “energy balance” between the two (annual TV area vs solar cell area being added)? The solar cells produce an average of 30W/m^2 (1000W/m^2 sun * 15% efficiency * 20% peak-base factor). The flat panel TVs suck an average of 360W/m^2 (pulled from this CNET survey).

So, if owners of new flat panel TVs can restrict their viewing to 2 hours per day, the new solar panels can power them.

That actually gives me some hope.

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