He predicted the fall of the Soviet Union. He predicted the explosive spread of the Internet and wireless access.
Now futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil is part of distinguished panel of engineers that says solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth’s people in 20 years.
There is 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to meet 100 percent of our energy needs, he says, and the technology needed for collecting and storing it is about to emerge as the field of solar energy is going to advance exponentially in accordance with Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.
They didn’t say “could scale up” or “be capable of producing all the energy needs of Earth’s people.” They said “will.”
I’ve long been a strong supporter of greatly increased nuclear power generation, but if this turns out to be true I’ll happily jump on the solar bandwagon.
However, this seems to be the basis of the 20 years claim:
“We also see an exponential progression in the use of solar energy,” he said. “It is doubling now every two years. Doubling every two years means multiplying by 1,000 in 20 years. At that rate we’ll meet 100 percent of our energy needs in 20 years.”
To expect the growth rate of something in the early stages of its infancy to continue is not terribly realistic. On the other hand, if solar electricity generation breakthroughs bring the benefits that many are hoping for, I can see it happening.