SunPower are one of the leading solar panel developers and manufacturers around the world. And at the company’s annual briefing last week in California, CEO Tom Werner told analysts he believes solar power will be a $5 trillion industry within 20 years.

He also noted that the expected growth of the industry makes it one of the best opportunities in the history of markets.

“We’ve just scratched the surface of this opportunity,” Werner said from the San Jose office. “I’ve been doing this for eleven years, and I’ve realised we’re just beginning.”

For these lofty targets to be met, it will take very strong investment in solar. But after the recent US-China climate change deal, which was reported in a Chinese paper as “the end of the coal boom”, it seems solar can expect a meteoric rise in uptake around the world.

In many developing countries (as well as developed countries), solar energy offers a cheaper, unsubsidised alternative to fossil fuels.

As part of the new agreement, China will look to install 1 million megawatts of solar, wind and other renewables by 2030.

Werner believes a lot of the switching to solar power will take place at the household level, as part of an “energy revolution”. It’s already happening in Australia with over 1.2 million households now powered by solar.

And a recent survey conducted by Ernst & Young found 9 out of 10 Australians have considered, or would consider, switching to solar energy as a way to cut their power bills.

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