Last year at this time, industry data suggested that by 2020, 98 percent of the world's population would have achieved grid parity, or solar energy power that is cost-competitive with traditional energy prices, but data now suggests this milestone will be achieved by the end of 2012. Fifty-five percent of all respondents recognize this shift and believe solar energy is less expensive than traditional energy sources, such as coal. Respondents in India were most likely (68%) to believe solar power was less expensive. Conversely, respondents in Japan were most likely (51%) to believe solar power was more expensive compared to traditional energy sources. Of the 35 percent of international consumers who believe solar power to be more expensive, 39 percent believe it will become equal to or less expensive than traditional power within nine years.
"Solar panels now cost less than $1 per watt, which means more than 100 countries have achieved grid parity," said Dr. Gay. "We have witnessed an explosion in global solar PV installations in the past year due to the dramatic and accelerated rate of cost reductions in the supply chain. This has resulted in significant decreases in end-market costs, and a continued focus on technology innovation will further drive down the total cost of solar electric power plants."