It’s a date most movie buffs know by heart: October 21, 2015 – the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future in Stephen Spielberg’s 1989 classic “Back to the Future: Part II.”
Although you may not have remembered the date, you’ve probably heard of Doc’s DeLorean, which takes 1.21 gigawatts (GW) of power to travel through time. Admittedly, our national labs haven’t quite figured out time travel just yet, but they do analyze power.
For instance, at the end of 2015, there was a combined 100 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power in the United States. To help put this number in perspective, it’s important to know just how big 1 gigawatt is. A watt is a measure of power and there’s 1 billion watts in 1 GW. (And if you wanted to break it down even further, 1 million watts = 1 megawatt (MW) and 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW).)
Need a stronger visual? Here are six examples equal to 1 GW of power:
How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt?
4.6 Million PV Panels
500 Utility-Scale Wind Turbines
100 million LEDs
Roughly 1.3 Million Horses
2,000 Corvette Z06s
12,500 Nissan Leafs
According to the automaker's website, the Nissan Leaf has an 80 kilowatt (kW) motor. So, 1 million kW divided by 80 kW = the maximum power of 12,500 Nissan Leafs.
Want to dig into other energy-related comparisons? Check out this interactive calculator that involves burritos and dynamite.