PV equipment provider Applied Materials has published the results of its annual solar energy survey, the company has announced. The 2012 survey was conducted among four countries that show great potential for growth in the solar market: USA, China, Japan and India.
Cost of solar
Altogether, half of the participants (55%) recognized that solar energy is cheaper than traditional energies, with respondents in India being most likely to believe this (68%), followed by the Japanese (51%). 35% believed solar energy to be more expensive but 39% of those suggested that cost-competitiveness will be achieved within the next nine years.
“Solar panels now cost less than US$1 per watt, which means more than 100 countries have achieved grid parity,” Charlie Gay, president of Applied Materials' solar division, explained. “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 decreases in end-market costs and a continued focus on technology innovation will further drive down the total cost of solar electric power plants.”
46% of respondents believe that solar energy will create new job opportunities, US respondents being the most optimistic (58%), followed equally by India (48%) and China (49%).
“More than 50% of the jobs in the global solar power industry are found after the solar panel leaves the factory, such as construction teams, installers, sales people, designers, engineers, electricians, etc.,” said Cathy Boone, senior director for energy policy and market development at Applied Materials. “Any country, city or community has the potential to directly benefit from the growth in the solar power industry with on-the-ground jobs if they are willing to make a commitment to replacing fossil fuels with solar.”
Adoption rate for solar energy
Consumers in China and in India are of the opinion that the rate at which solar energy is adopted in their country is too slow, 51% of Indian respondents suggesting that the government’s increase of renewable energies of 6% by 2022 is too slow; 58% of Chinese respondents suggesting that the rate of adopting 15GW by 2015 is too slow.
Education is needed
What is apparent in the survey is that education about solar energy is still needed. Only 17% of all respondents could identify Germany as the world’s largest installer of solar power. 26% believed the US to install the most solar panels, 22% thought it to be Japan. According to IHS iSupply, the largest installers of solar energy as of 2011 are Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, USA and China.