Apr 04

A few weeks back, in the March 7 issue of The Week, I read an article titled “For energy, here comes the sun.” At first glance, it was good to see that I’m not the only one so enthusiastic, nor the only author of bad puns, having titled my first solar story “here comes the sun” back in October. I was happy to discover the article was about futurist Ray Kurzweil’s prediction that he is “confident that we are not that far away from a tipping point (my choice of words as well) where energy from solar will be [economically] competitive with fossil fuels. The longer story appeared on LifeScience.com and was titled, “Solar Power to Rule in 20 Years, Futurists Say“. Kurzweil makes reference to advances in solar power being similar to that of computer technology, but as one of my regular readers Augustine pointed out to me,”Integrated circuits fall in price because Moore said that it would be increasingly possible to shrink transistor sizes, therefore allowing to increase their number per area. And given that the cost of manufacturing integrated circuits relies heavily on the area, the more transistors per area, the cheaper the integrated circuit. Photo-voltaic cells are not made up by Silicon transistors, but by a Silicon film deposited on a surface. Therefore, its area cannot be reduced and its cost is not subject to Moore’s law.” This is true, and resets my expectations a bit. I’m still optimistic that 4 cent/KWH solar isn’t too far away.

Joe

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