In the last half year, solar PV panels have dropped in price to a point where they are competitive with gas, oil, and coal...without government subsidies or price influencing. Due to the current affordability of solar power, and China's desire to bolster their independence from global market fluctuations...China has now committed to a huge move into dramatically increasing their solar power usage. That single decision alone guarantees price and performance improvements will keep marching forward.
Early adopters put up with low performance (big panels with low output) and high prices because they felt it was the right thing to do, and also because they wanted to be a visible example. Now? its actually a smart financial move, without needing to argue that you will break even in 20 years, with free electricity in your retirement.
A few years ago, pro-green energy analysts were looking forward to 2020 as the tipping point, and the sharpness of the drop in prices over the last half of 2016 came as a surprise. I personally feel that that boom in solar panel purchases was driven by the ability to actually store the daytime energy to use later in the evening (time shifting). There are many factors (as there always are), but...the trigger for me was Tesla showing that the "powerwall" was a real product with an easy to install and easy-to-use purchase-ability. The Gigafactory built in the USA was another facet of the paradigm that gave "not green" citizens the confidence that this wasn't just another over hyped and under-performing vaporware gadget. If Panasonic is partnering on a multi billion dollar factory, then this is going to happen.
People who don't care about coal and global warming love their Tesla car. The look, the performance, the range is longer than they drive 98% of the time, and people who own a Tesla own several other cars, so range was never an issue for them. Its the same with the powerwall. Power outage? why buy a gasoline generator to buzz in the back yard, I have solar panels and a powerwall. Don't sell it as green for the planet, sell it as a status symbol which preserves a wealthy clients independence and comfort.
The US never had a "moon race" for alternative energy independence, and the last four presidents have been two Democrats and two Republicans. Rich people buying green toys have funded this last leap to the finish line in a race to the opening chapter of a new world of energy. Thank you Elon Musk.
https://electrek.co/2016/09/26/solar-po ... ase-again/
The blue-collar Prius, Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Volt are nice, but...add them together and they still don't even come close to the Tesla cars and the powerwall.