Eco-Living Magazine

Solar Power, Moore’s Law, and Revolution

Posted on the 13 November 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Solar Power, Moore’s Law, and RevolutionLeft learning, for sure, but that lean comes with a Nobel Prize in Economics. When Paul Krugman says that solar power is on the verge of being price-competitive with coal and other electricity generation, there may be something to it. The revolution is happening before our eyes. Just like United Airlines’s contract to buy algae-based biofuel for its airplanes, there are increasing signs – both large and small – that the green technology revolution is progressing nicely. As Krugman writes:

Our mastery of the material world [compared to the computing/IT revolution] has advanced much more slowly. The sources of energy, the way we move stuff around, are much the same as they were a generation ago…but that may be about to change. We are, or at least we should be, on the cusp of an energy transformation, driven by the rapidly falling cost of solar power. That’s right, solar power…If the downward trend continues — and if anything it seems to be accelerating — we’re just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.

He goes on to make a case for government support and laments, as many have, over the absolute atrocious state of politics in the U.S. But he makes a comparison to “Moore’s law” in the computer industry. That law states that “the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.” This has led to a huge reduction in price over the years while leading to remarkable increases in processing power and the birth of the modern consumer electronics market. They may now be a Moore’s law equivalent for the solar industry where prices, adjusted for inflation, are falling around 7 percent per year.

Go back 20 or even just 10 years ago and think about the radical transformation in modern communications and how that has affected our lives – mostly for the better. Now imagine that there is a similar arc of progress budding in the energy sector. Innovation and disruptive technology in that sector has the potential to more radically change our lives for the better than anything since the birth of science since energy is the basis for everything from the computer industry to transportation to the economy to war-making and winning capability, and even life itself.


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By mattgenton
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