Two timely examples of how solar power is becoming increasingly affordable: Forecasts show that by 2015 in India the solar power industry will be able to compete without subsidy against natural gas and oil; and, in Los Angeles, group purchasing of solar power means that in just four years homeowners will have cheaper electricity than can be bought from the grid.
Think Progress reports that the Open Neighborhoods program in LA has been able to band together for enough purchasing clout that they can purchase solar power for $2 per watt installed. That's half of it would've cost otherwise -- equating to about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour over a 25 year timescale. It also means that by 2015 Open Neighborhoods participants will have electricity at cheaper-than-grid prices. If those homeowners live in a place where there is time-of-use pricing (the cost of electricity varying by time of day), they already are paying less than homeowners without solar power.
If you're wondering about what group purchasing of solar power is all about, while TreeHugger has never written about Open Neighborhoods before, One Block Off The Grid is a similar concept.
Halfway around the world, Reuters reports that solar power costs in India are on pace to fall 40% by 2015, resulting in a kilowatt-hour of electricity costing INR 7-8 ($0.14-0.16). Coal-generated electricity currently costs about INR 2 ($0.04) per kWH.
The head of Lanco Solar told Reuters what these price drops mean for solar power in India,
Given the current scenario with the way it is growing and the way costs are coming down, our industry will probably not require any financial support from the state going forward in maybe three to four years.
India has quite ambitious and laudable solar power plans on the national level. The National Solar Mission aims to install 1.3 GW of solar power by 2013, and a 2 GW by 2022.