5 big nuclear power plants.
Let us assume on Mars they live in completely enclosed environments like the international space station.
Weighing in at 450 tons, the station has the pressurized volume of one
and a half Boeing 747s and boasts an acre of solar arrays, which
generate 700,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to power
The ISS has a crew of 6. We will actually do the division instead of making it a crew of 7. That means 116666 kwh/person over a year.
There are probably economies of scale such that per person energy requirments do not directly scale up but let us not have them do that. Multiplying that out by the 100,000 Martians it is 11666600000 kwh in a year. So 11 billion and change.
But food! The ISS crew gets food sent up. Martians need to grow their own food. How much more energy to run the food facilities? Let us consider a cannabis grow room where all light is electrical.
According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC),
indoor commercial cannabis production (also known as a cannabis grow
room) can consume 2,000 to 3,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per
pound of product.
Cannabis is probably more expensive than potatoes or yeast vats but everything will be more expensive on Mars and it gives a number to work with. Let us say the typical Martian eats 4 pounds of food each day, only a small portion of which is cannabis. That is 2500 * 4 kwh/day = 10000 to make the food for one Martian on 1 day. Multiplying by the 100,000 martians and 365 days in a year I get 365 billion KWh over the year.
Now we have 365 billion + 11 billion = 376 billion kwh or 376 million megawatts to support the Martians. That is a lot. There are kind of a lot of Martians in this scenario.
Can we make that much? How much does a nuclear power plant make?
The R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in New York is the smallest
nuclear power plant in the United States, and it has one reactor with
a net summer electricity generating capacity of about 581 megawatts
The amount of electricity that a power plant generates during a period
of time depends on the amount of time its reactors operate at a
specific capacity. For example, if the R.E. Ginna reactor operates at
581 MW capacity for 24 hours, it will generate 13,934 megawatthours
(MWh). If the reactor generated that amount of electricity every day
of the year, it would generate 5,086,056 MWh
There are power plants in Japan that make a lot more than that.
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Japan
is currently the world’s largest nuclear power plant, with a net
capacity of 7,965MW.
So a big plant can generate 16x the energy of the little Ginna plant. 5 million Mwh x 16 = 80 million Mwh in a year. 5 plants like the Japanese one would support the Martians with a little to spare; 5 x80 = 400 million Mwh.
There was an enthusiast for solar and wind power around here recently. And I too am an enthusiast, but my fingers are tired of typing. Enthusiast, I invite you to calculate the square km of solar panels it would require to duplicate the output of the 5 nuclear power plants. For purposes of comparison you can ignore the weak sunlight of Mars and use a modern solar plant in the Mojave.