I have been tracking the solar energy industry for fifteen years and seen many improvements in products and efficiency (the rate of converting the sun's rays to electricity). The technology is primed to play a large role in pollution-free energy in the coming decades. Dye-sensitized cells can now be placed on polymer substrates so that solar panels can be rolled on roofs instead of being placed in expensive, bulky frames.
But technology costs and my studies show that the U.S. Government is behind other nations in providing necessary funding to make solar a viable alternative. During my observation of the industry, U.S. Government funding was behind the curve. When oil got expensive, solar was supported, but during the periods that oil dropped in price, U.S. funding decreased. Big Oil advertises its support of solar energy, but I think it is more hype than substance. Neither the government or the Oil industry carried on sustained programs of solar development.
Germany and Japan, by contrast,have solar roof programs in which they help residents with the installation and cost of solar panels. Incentives are also offered to users of solar power. To stay up with the needs of the future, the U.S. government and Big Oil will have to get in the game.