A guest post by Hans Wittich, President of Solar Gaines, a solar panel installation company in Baltimore, Maryland.
Quick, which country has installed the most solar panels? Is it your country? Where does your country rank globally for solar panel installations?
If you’re not sure, you aren’t alone. A recent survey by Applied Materials finds many consumers don’t know how well their country has embraced solar power. According to the survey:
- 57% of Americans think the United States has installed the most solar panels
- 43% of Chinese think China leads the world in solar panel installations
- 52% of India’s population think India has installed the most solar panels
Now, here’s the reality: The top solar installations per country, in descending order, are Germany, Italy, Japan, United States, Spain and China.
Among all respondents worldwide, most (26%) thought the United States leads the world in solar panel installations. Respondents in Japan were most likely (35%) to correctly identify Germany as the world leader in solar panel installations.
Solar Panel Costs on the Decline
Consumer perceptions about the price of solar may be shifting. According to the survey:
- 55% of respondents believe solar energy is less expensive than traditional energy sources.
- 68% of respondents in India believe solar power is less expensive than traditional energy sources.
- 51% of respondents in Japan believe solar power is more expensive than traditional energy sources.
Among consumers who believe solar power is more expensive, 39% believe solar will compete with traditional energy sources on price within a decade.
So how much does solar energy cost? The cost of solar panels is now less than $1 per watt. Given the significant decrease in solar panel costs, 2012 could be the year when residential solar panel installations see their greatest growth to date.
But can solar energy compete on price with coal and other traditional fuels? Yes, and soon, says the research. Applied Materials concludes solar energy will reach a point of price-competitiveness by the end of 2012, much earlier than previously expected.
Conclusion: Education About Solar Energy Still Needed
Consumer understanding of solar energy is improving, but education is still needed. With greater awareness of solar power’s affordability, adoption rates should rise.