Well, if solar panels were 100% efficient then we would only have to cover 1.8% of the land on our planet for them to cover all our needs.
Wait. The earth rotates with about 38% of the surface optimally bathed in sunlight at any given time. Doing the math on that means that we have to cover somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.2% of the land on the planet in 100% efficient panels to cover our needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Oh wait, solar panels aren't 100% efficient. As a matter of fact, they aren't even nearly 20% efficient in most cases. Eh...back to the drawing board.
I love the idea of cleaner energy as much as everyone else, however there are a few things that many people don't realize.
1. Nuclear power is a known entity with known problems however it provides the most energy at the least cost in regards to both money and pollution.
2. Covering signifigant portions of any land mass in solar panels (solar farms) leads to serious erosion problems and other issues that are not widely publicized as a large problem. It is a large problem, so much so that some solar farms are only producing at about 60% capacity due to equipment failures caused by panel foundations shifting and wind issues. Read the article in Wired.
3. Wind farms can not adequately provide enough power to the grid to support everyone. In severely windy areas it can cause serious power spikes that our current power grid cannot handle potentially causing large scale outages. It is also worth noting that if you have an unusually non-windy month, your refrigerator might not turn on some nights. That sucks.
4. Technology is not there yet with geothermal, waveform hydroelectric or any other technology you hear routinely mentioned as a solution to all our energy problems. They are at least 20-30 years off before they start providing any useful power and that is at the earliest.
We get it. We need cleaner energy. Now, listen to those of us who agree with you but are more well informed: Nuclear is your first best option for the next three decades. Do you really feel like complaining about how bad coal and oil are for another 30 years?