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Published on June 19th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Summer Solstice Solar Survey: Consumers Around the World Think Their Country Has the Most Solar Power Installed

June 19th, 2012 by  


All countries in blue are expected to have hit solar grid parity by the end of 2012. Light blue countries were expected to hit grid parity by this time just one year ago — a lot has changed in that time.

Applied Materials puts out an interesting Summer Solstice Solar Energy Survey annually. While it covers a range of topics, one of the most interesting findings this year, in my opinion, is that consumers of various countries think their country is the solar leader (when it is not).

“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,” Applied Materials writes.

Pretty hilarious.

Only 17% of respondents responded that Germany was the world leader.

Of course, as CleanTechnica readers know, the top countries in absolute numbers (MW of installed solar power) as of the end of 2011 were:

  1. Germany — 24678
  2. Italy — 12754
  3. Japan — 4914
  4. Spain — 4400
  5. USA — 4383
  6. China — 3093
  7. France — 2659
  8. Belgium — 2018
  9. Czech Rep. — 1959
  10. Australia — 1298

But those rankings change when you look at installed solar power in relative terms (i.e. per capita, per GDP, and relative to electricity production).

Other highlights from the survey include the following:

  • “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.”
  • “Over half (55%) understand that when compared to the cost of traditional energy sources, like coal, solar energy is less expensive.”
  • “Nearly six in 10 (58%) consumers in China believe that the projected rate of solar energy adoption to15 GW by 2015 is too slow of an adoption rate. And when respondents in India were asked about the government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s goal of increasing the contribution of renewable energy to six percent of India’s total energy mix by 2022, more than half (51%) voiced concern that the rate of adoption was too slow.”

Expanding on that last point, Applied Materials writes:

“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.”

Images via Applied Materials

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Jennelle

    Solar power can change the world no matter which country get there first or fastest. Did you know Australia is holding a Cleantech Open for Clean-techs innovators looking to make a difference in the world? 
    Cleantechs can sign up here http://www.cleantechopen.com.au/enter.html

  • Bill_Woods

    “All countries in blue are expected to have hit solar grid parity by the end of 2012.”

    You may want to knock at least one of those countries back off the map. At least, I hear the midday price of power is far below the cost of solar in Germany. 

  • Ross

    Is this retail price parity. Even Ireland and GB? In Ireland our national strategy totally ignores Solar 🙁

    • Matt

      I was wonder that also. There is consumer parity (many still pay a flat rate) and then there is corp peak (2,3, or 4) these peak rates are much higher. Since solar peak very close to peak demand, the corp peak parity chart would cover a much bigger area than the consumer parity chart.

    • I presume it is retail prices parity as solar has hit and shot past retail parity in Australia, but has yet to reach grid parity because of our champion low wholesale electricity rates.  (Unfortunately wholesale rates are low for a bad reason.  Our electricity sector uses huge amounts of cheap to extract coal.)

      • I will mention that retail price parity is all that is needed for solar to take off in a big way.  My state had very little solar capacity installed two years ago and today at noon solar will supply about 15% of our electricity demand.

        • Ross

          Domestic solar water heating is promoted here a fair bit with grants. With the costs of PV installation coming down it would be nice to see the adoption of solar electric promoted too.

        • jeez, 15% of demand! wow. need to do a full article on the situation there someday…

          any interest in writing one up, actually?

          if so, you could actually shoot me an email at zach@importantmedia.org (or just comment here again and i should see it)

          no pressure though, just checking 😀

    • not sure. their assumptions must be on the optimistic side more — haven’t seen anyone else put so many countries at grid parity this year.

  • Matt

    So what life span for the panels was used to calculate the blue area. The number of years (20/25/30/35/40) greatly impacts the area. Not to mention the assumed rate or grid electric cost growth.

    • no idea. always wonder that with such info. normally, the years used are far too few. but these folks seem to have much sooner grid parity estimates, so they might be using 30 or even more. not sure though.

  • sigh – if only they were all right. I wonder many MWs people thought were needed to be number one?

    • would bet that most people don’t know what MWs are.

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