David Kirkpatrick

July 28, 2008

Moore’s Law doesn’t apply to solar

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:11 pm

In a recent speech, former vice president Al Gore implied solar technology is growing at the same rate computer chips are shrinking — basically invoking Moore’s Law without naming the phenomena.

Now I’m all about solar innovation and improvements, but I think Gore’s a bit ahead of himself here. Not unlike a lot of the hyperbole he’s been throwing out there lately. Lots of good, solid and necessary ideas, but tossed into the mix is a pinch of BS and a dash of hucksterism. 

Just to give you an idea of my solar coverage, here’s a link to a search for [solar] on this site— not everything is solar energy, but there’s a lot there and the subject is one of the science and technology areas this blog regularly covers.

ComputerWorld has a good article on Gore’s statement and the actual relationship between Moore’s Law and solar innovation.

From the last link:

“Think about what happened in the computer revolution,” Gore said on NBC’s Meet the Press programme recenty. “We saw cost reductions for silicon computer chips of 50% for every year and a half for the last 40 years,” he said. “We’re now beginning to see the same kind of sharp cost reductions as the demand grows for solar cells — they build new, more efficient facilities to build these solar cells.”

Gore, who has formed a group, The Alliance for Climate Protection, for solar cell creation, was referring to Moore’s Law, which explains the dramatic gains in compute performance. It stems from a 1965 paper written by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, which found that the number of transistors put on a chip doubles every 18 months.

But does Moore’s Law also apply to the solar energy industry? The short answer is no. As with microprocessor technology, the price and performance of photovoltaic solar electric cell is improving. And Gore can clearly point to price drops of solar cells to make his case. But the efficiency of those solar cells — their ability to convert sunlight into electric energy — is not increasing as rapidly.

(Hat tip — KurzweilAI.net)

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: