Applied Materials Celebrates Summer Solstice 2011


Summer solstice, the day of the year with the most sunlight, is significant to our team here at Applied Materials. Today we released the results of our third annual solar energy survey and we discovered that although still in the minority, a significant amount of American consumers would consider installing solar panels on their homes. Specifically, more than a quarter (27%) of Americans would consider installing solar panels on their home. The biggest motivator appears to be cost-related as 65% would be motivated by government incentives to help offset installation costs and 54% would be motivated by the increase in the home’s value.

Interestingly, 49% would be motivated to install panels simply if they had more information about solar photovoltaic technology and how it can work for them. Here's where we hopefully can help a bit.

The cost of installing solar is lower than it has ever been before. In fact, advancement in solar manufacturing technology and scale enabled the world to install 18 gigawatts of photovoltaics in 2010, doubling the total amount of solar capacity installed in the history of the technology until that point.

Polysilicon accounts for as much as half of the solar module costs and more than 10% of the total installation cost, and its cost has fallen nearly 10x from peak levels a few years ago. The key technologies that continue to contribute to the increasing affordability of crystalline silicon solar photovoltaics are higher efficiency cells, thinner wafers, higher manufacturing productivity, and advances in automation.

The price of solar panels has dropped from $4 per watt in 2008 and is expected to reach $1 per watt in the next couple of years. As a result, solar power now costs the same as retail peak electricity from traditional sources such as natural gas in Southern California. Solar is now competitive with traditional power in certain areas in 19 countries including Italy and Spain.

While the highest number of cumulative solar photovoltaic installations in 2010 occurred in Germany, we can increase installations in the United States as utilities continue to adopt solar and consumers become more aware of the cost efficiency and energy efficiency of solar panels. While Americans already believe solar energy is the most efficient renewable energy source (32%) among its wind and hydro peers, it’s now time for the solar industry to set that energy in motion and increase our country's use of photovoltaic technology.

In addition to conducting this survey, we put together a solar energy infographic with key facts from around the world to demonstrate solar energy’s potential.

Lastly, I’d like to share with you an opportunity to celebrate the summer solstice by joining Applied Materials’ president of Solar, Dr. Charlie Gay on Reddit for an “Ask Me Anything” session beginning first thing tomorrow.


NOTE:  This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation among a national probability sample of 1,011 adults comprising 503 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States.  Interviewing for this CARAVAN® Survey was completed during the period June 9-12, 2011. The margin of error is +/-3%.