The market price of solar panels dipped last year and this brought us to the brink of price parity - the point at which electricity derived from solar panels costs the same as that derived from fossil fuels.
Now grid parity is a little bit of a misnomer because electricity prices vary widely throughout the world, such as in many European countries, electricity costs upwards of 25c per KW/h whereas in North America it's typically 15c per KW/h and sometimes less. In that case we should expect to see grid parity reached in sunnier European jurisdictions (and e.g. South Africa) first.
In fact that is indeed the case.
"The European Photovoltaic Industry Association and a number of analysts say solar panels can already produce electricity at a cost competitive with conventional sources in parts of southern Italy, where the sun shines often and electricity tariffs are among the highest in the world."
Likewise we are within a hair's breadth of grid parity for South Africa.
"Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a renewable-energy database, sees the best solar panels producing electricity at a cost of US15¢ per kilowatt-hour by 2015, says Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst. That is less than the retail electricity price in most European countries and parts of the US."
Once that happens, the switch to electrical based transportation systems will be breathtaking.