Again, I think Jame's exposition is correct. Though subsidy has masked the development of solar power, commercially it has halved in cost over the past two years, mainly due to the efforts of the Chinese.
It must be remembered that historically, the development of new technologies has always been a rocky road, with initial failures; stealing and infighting; supression; poverty for some of the progenitors and qualification even for some of the successes.
I would expect that most people in the forum, myself included, would regard the age of an industry as not being a particularly important factor in deciding whether to give it a subsidy or not. But to some politicians, the age of the industry is the most important parameter. The idea of only giving support to infant industries is particularly strong within the Lib Dims. To get some idea of what I'm talking about, Google the following: "vince cable" "infant industry".
On Orde's point that solar power has halved in cost thanks to the efforts of the Chinese, my understanding of that is that the Chinese have substantially reduced the cost of making solar panels simply by dumping a hazardous waste by-product rather than through a genuine efficiency improvement. In the developed world, the hazardous chemical silicon tetrachloride produced in the manufacturing has to be processed and recycled at considerable expense, but in China they can just dump it, and basically wherever it is dumped turns into a wasteland. If it wasn't for the fact that the dumping is associated with a politically correct product, the Green lobby and environmental journalists in the West would raise a substantial amount of fuss over the issue.
I am shocked but unsurprised by Dave's assertion that waste silicon tetrachloride is being dumped by Chinese solar cell manufacturers nor the silence on the subject by the western pc media. It seems my description of technological progress as a rocky road is in this case, literally true!