Applied Materials Celebrates the Summer Solstice #solsticeapplied

Jun182012

Summer solstice is a great time to celebrate the sun and all the benefits we receive from it–light, resources for life and warmth for the Earth. It’s also a great time to talk about solar energy and its adoption around the world. For the past four years, Applied has used this day to highlight the benefits of solar technology, as well as dispel common misperceptions about this renewable energy source.

Today, we released the results of our annual solar energy survey which measures consumer understanding and awareness of solar in China, India, Japan and the United States. We chose these countries because the anticipated growth of photovoltaic (PV) installations is greatest in these markets.

I wanted to share some of the more interesting findings of our multi-national survey. What I found most fascinating were the different regional perceptions of solar energy:

  • Respondents of each country believed their country has installed the greatest number of solar panels. Almost six in 10 (57%) Americans say the U.S. has installed the most solar panels, 43 percent of Chinese think it is China, and half (52%) of India thinks it is their country. According to Solarbuzz, the leaders in cumulative solar installations in descending order are Germany, Italy, Japan, U.S., Spain and China.

We also wanted to understand consumer perceptions around the relationship between solar energy generation and job creation:

  • Nearly half of consumers (46%) believe that growth of solar will positively impact the job market by creating jobs. The U.S. is most optimistic with nearly six in 10 (58%) responding as such. Every country, city and community has the potential to directly benefit from the growth of the solar power industry with on-the-ground jobs in system integration, installation, sales and marketing, and project development.

Meeting Long-Term Energy Demands

When we think about the world’s future energy needs, the sheer numbers can be overwhelming. Given that the world’s population is expected to plateau at 9 billion people by 2050, how much more energy will we need? According to our own solar guru Dr. Charlie Gay, we will need three times the amount of electricity in 2050 compared to today and solar has the potential to provide 30% of it. While 2050 seems a long ways off, Charlie reminds us that as utilities plan infrastructure changes on a 30-40 year cycle, we have the opportunity today to set a future path for an energy mix that integrates cost-effective renewables including solar.

Are we at a point today where solar energy is cost-effective? Survey respondents believe so:

  • Over half (55%) understand that when compared to the cost of traditional energy sources, like coal, solar energy is less expensive.

The reality is that the cost of solar has fallen dramatically over the last year. Today, PV module prices are below $1/Watt, which means that in many countries solar power has reached a point where it is cost competitive with retail energy prices –that is, that solar is at parity with grid power. Last year, we reported that 28 countries would be at grid parity at the end of 2012. Today, that number has surpassed 100. To put that in perspective, these 105 countries make up 98% of the world’s population, account for 99.7% of the world’s GDP and consume 99.2% of the world’s energy related to CO2 emissions. We’ve graphically illustrated this and encourage you to share it to help raise awareness.

This expanded survey is a continuation of our commitment to driving down the total cost of solar technology through innovation. Ultimately we believe this will make solar a more meaningful contributor to the global energy mix.

Continuing the Conversation and Education

I’d like to share with you an opportunity to engage with us around a conversation about solar policy, jobs and myths by joining Applied Materials’ senior director for Energy Policy and Market Development, Cathy Boone for a Twitter Chat on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 1:00pm ET. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @Applied_blog and with the hashtag #solsticeapplied.

Info Mania –In addition to conducting the survey, the team put together graphics highlighting interesting facts about trends in the solar industry.

Finally, a PDF document with detailed findings of the solar energy survey.

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