As the price per watt falls, the tipping point for solar energy to become truly competitive is only a few years away
By Joel Stonington
The big number is 50. When companies can produce solar photovoltaic modules for less than 50¢ per watt, solar energy will be able to compete directly with coal. Right now, the cheapest solar cells are being produced for as little as 70¢ per watt. They are selling for about $1.26 per watt, with prices expected to drop to $1.17 next year. Most anticipate they they will hit 50¢ per watt within four or five years.