Watching the propagation of technology throughout our global society can be fascinating. Case in point, the telephone. First world telephone users started with hard wired phones, which transitioned to cordless phones (still using the wired infrastructure), and are only recently transitioning en mass to cell phones. In developing countries, the infrastructure for a wired phone system simply doesn’t exist, and is very expensive to install. These same countries are finding that cell phones are less expensive to deploy on a wide scale, and as a result these areas are incorporating phone technology into their lives at a different point in the cycle than first world citizens.
A similar technological lead-frogging is beginning to appear in energy. While first-world countries continue to burn fossil fuels and transmit that energy hundreds of miles through wires to the end users, the costs with building that infrastructure is making alternative energy, specifically solar, much more appealing to developing world citizens, where solar can be less expensive than the fossil fuel alternatives.
It’s a fascinating transition, and for more on this I recommend reading this article at climatecrocks.com.