Futurist Ray Kurzweil has made a career out of predicting positive inflection points in the development of technology and industries. Industry statistics support his bold pronouncement that that solar power is on an exponential path, doubling every two years. To what end? A cheap, clean, and virtually boundless power source for humankind in two decades.
As Kurzweil notes, “We are awash in sunlight.” Just 1/10,000 of the sunlight falling on the Earth’s surface can satisfy humanity’s energy requirements. And that doesn’t imply a landscape littered with panels—in fact, an area equal to just a few percent of the Earth’s unused deserts would suffice.
On a global basis, solar energy has made great progress in Europe, particularly Italy and Germany. The United States, China and Japan are lagging the Europeans but trending upward.