Intrigued by Shaw’s conviction about the inevitable importance of
the Internet, Bezos started researching its growth. A Texas-based
author and publisher named John Quarterman had recently started the
Matrix News, a monthly newsletter extolling the Internet and
discussing its commercial possibilities. One set of numbers in
particular in the February 1994 edition of the newsletter was
startling. For the first time, Quarterman broke down the growth of
the year-old World Wide Web and pointed out that its simple,
friendly interface appealed to a far broader audience than other
Internet technologies. In one chart, he showed that the number of
bytes—a set of binary digits —transmitted over the Web
had increased by a factor of 2,057 between January 1993 and January
Many people are unfamiliar with Moore’s Law, and
how it affects solar power.
Moore’s Law doesn’t occur
in many technologies or industries,
but it’s there in solar photovoltaic (PV).
For those of us whose whole working lives have been
affected by Moore’s Law, seeing it turn up in another field
is like a flashing neon sign pointing to the future.
A future of distributed solar power sunrise
over the crumbling industrial relics of coal, nuclear, and natural gas plants.
A future with much less control by monopoly utilities,
which is why they fight it.
If they even see it coming; Bill Gates didn’t, back in the day,
but Jeff Bezos of Amazon did.
They both surfed that tide,
and Moore’s Law made both of them among the richest humans on the planet
while changing the world for all of us.
Steve Jobs even used it to put a computer in your pocket
more powerful than big companies could buy a few decades ago.
What does Moore’s Law for solar power mean for electric power?
This chart shows the telltale symptom of Moore’s Law in solar electricity:
65% compound annual growth rate in solar power plants
deployed for the past 5 years:
That 17 GW installed in 2010 is the equivalent of 17 nuclear power
plants — manufactured, shipped and installed in one year. It
can take decades just to install a nuclear plant. Think about that.
I heard Bill Gates recently call solar “cute.” Well,
that’s 17 GW of “cute” adding up at an astonishing pace.
Bill Gates should recall that Moore’s Law made formerly “cute” PCs with his
“cute” operating system Windows expand into every company in the world
and made him the second richest human on the planet.
Growth of computer software markets,
like for the U.S. as shown in the graph on the right,
is a symptom of the original Moore’s Law.
Software runs on hardware, and these hardware market curves
are driven more directly by Moore’s Law: