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View Diary: The End of Economic Growth (188 comments)

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  •  Hmm...maybe. (1+ / 0-)
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    The amount of energy produced by solar power globally is currently quite small as a percentage of the whole, but that amount of production has been doubling every two years.  Also the efficiency of solar cells continues to improve.  These trends indicate that solar energy will be economically competitive with fossil fuels at some point in this decade, and that world energy could be completely met by solar power in the 2020's.  So we're approximately a decade away from a new era of cheap energy.

    The thing is, solar isn't substitutable for oil in almost any of its uses today.  Principally, as a transportation fuel or as an input in manufacturing or agriculture.

    While solar may be able to provide relatively cheap electricity, transportation is what makes our (global) economy work, and that's thanks to cheap oil.

    The second reason I'm optimistic about the future in the long run is the ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.

    As it happens, we're likely to not just hit peak oil in a few years, but also the end of Moore's law.  (I spoke with an expert on the subject not long ago, and he says there is no plan B in the chip industry, so processors will soon no longer get better by leaps and bounds every couple of years.)  This will put a major damper on projections about AI and robotics that depend upon Moore's law. - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

    by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:38:05 AM PDT

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