Great Graphic: Solar Energy and Swanson's Effect

Technological progress is live changing. Economies of scale of powerful. Combine the two and the consequences are far-reaching.  This Great Graphic comes from the Economist.   It charts the dollar price per watt of electricity generated by photovoltaic cells going back to the late 1970s. 

Essentially, the cost of photovoltaic cells need to generate solar power falls 20% with each doubling of global capacity.  This has been dubbed the "Swanson Effect" after Richard Swanson the founder of SunPower, the large US-based manufacturers of solar cells.  

It is parallel to "Moore's Law" that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles roughly every two years.  The eighteen months, often cited, was added by an Intel executive that combined the number of chips and their performance.

The Swanson effect reportedly has more life in it as there are technological advances that have not been commercialized yet.  The price per watt of solar-generated electricity will continue to decline.  However, the technological progress in carbon-based fuels, especially natural gas, risks deterring the adoption of energy alternatives.   In addition, energy independence may encourage greater unilateralism at a time when the international ties that bind, such as financial integration, appear to be going in reverse.  

Great Graphic: Solar Energy and Swanson's Effect Great Graphic:  Solar Energy and Swanson's Effect Reviewed by Marc Chandler on December 30, 2012 Rating: 5
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