Moore’s Law for Solar?

We’re always keen to hear from our readers to understand if there’s anything specific that they’d like us to talk about. One astute readers asks “Does Moores Law apply to Solar? I suspect it does which would mean that at some point solar will become viable…“.

Well reader, I reckon solar (PV, for clarification) is viable right now, maybe it’s just not viable enough for your application… if it wasn’t a bit viable there wouldn’t be so many people sticking it all over their roofs right now, and countries such as USA, Spain and the GCC wouldn’t be looking at large scale plants. However economically, you’re right – PV isn’t as viable as other energy efficiency investments on a small scale.

So to Moore’s Law – to recap, the observation made in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented, and would continue for the foreseeable future. PV has certainly followed a significant efficiency and cost effectiveness improvement, especially in recent times. Panels have gone from$300 per watt in 1956 to $50 per watt in the 1970s to $10 in the 90s to $1.05 a watt today – an average of 7% annually in a remarkably linear fashion – see the chart below. And as uptake increases this is predicted to continue to fall – just not at the rate of the transistor industry. As analyst Lindsay Leveen puts it (and from Forbes), it is a bit like Demi Moore’s Law (Demi means half in French and may relate to the penchant for Moores to date people half their age – shes also really good at getting close to bright orange things full of hot gas – see below – necessary for maximum PV generation).

naam-solar-moore_s-law-5    demitrump

So our advice to you reader? Well that depends on what your requirement for viability is, because PV may be closer than you think to being viable in your eyes.