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Does Moore’s Law Apply to Energy Technology?

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Wonderfest 2009

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Periergeia Avatar
Posted: 06.13.10, 03:58 PM
Why would Moore's Law apply? In order to apply, the pre-requisites of Moore's Law would have to apply. And they clearly don't. So what's the pre-requisite of Moore's Law? It's the requirement that the efficiency of the initial implementation of a solution to a problem is many, many orders of magnitudes away from the physical limits of the best possible such implementation. In case of computing, that ratio between the efficiency of the first and the ultimate implementations is some 30 orders of magnitude! In case of solar energy, we are talking about a factor (not orders of magnitude!) of 20... between 5% efficiency and roughly 95% thermodynamic efficiency. Clearly, these guys do not understand what Moore's Law really is. The charts they show are drawn on linear scales... not logarithmic ones. One can say a lot of things about the scaling of solar technology (and they do), but to chose Moore's Law for the starting point of their talk clearly is a poor, poor choice. You can, by the way, learn the cost limit for solar energy simply by asking your friendly local solar installer. He will tell you that, even if the solar panels were free and hundred percent efficient, you would still have to pay for the guy crawling around on your roof, installing those freebies! Let's make that $1000 for a day's of work. That brings the cost limit to about $1000/4kW for a typical roof. That's about $250 per kW installed power output. We will eventually get to within that number up to a factor of 2 or 3... but that will take a while.