This post comes courtesy of data dug up by Applied Materials, which has been releasing solar technology and industry statistics each year on the summer solstice. The figures in question come from the semiconductor company's third annual solar energy survey, which covered 1,011 U.S. adults surveyed in early June. Here goes:
- Solar is way cheaper than three years ago. The cost of solar photovoltaic panels has decreased by 70 percent since 2008, to $1.25 per watt this year. As a result, the cost of solar energy versus "traditional" energy should reach parity by the end of 2011 in countries including Italy, Spain and Brazil. One U.S. state, California, also has the potential to reach parity.
- Widespread price parity could be possible by 2020. By 2020, Applied Materials believes that more than 100 countries will have access to solar power that costs the same as current residential power sources.
- Solar perceived as more efficient than other renewable sources. According to the survey, 32 percent of Americans believe solar energy is the most efficient renewable energy source. The other sources considered were hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and biomass.
- Sorry, but the U.S. is NOT the solar power leader. Slightly more than one-fifth of Americans believe that the United States is the leader in solar energy. This is, in fact, an erroneous assumption. Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy all use more solar power than the United States. Right now, Applied Materials figures that less than one percent of U.S. energy consumption comes from solar power.
- Not on my roof, unless ... Approximately 25 percent of Americans (one in four) would consider installing residential solar panels on their home. Almost half said they wouldn't consider doing this, BUT if there was a financial motivation, they might change their mind. The most popular incentive category among the respondents were government incentives to offset the installation costs.
- The younger people are, they more likely they are to want solar. Almost one-third of the survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 44 said they would consider solar, compared with 27 percent of those between 45 and 66 years of age. Only 15 percent of the survey respondents over the age of 65 said they would consider.