Solar energy investors seem to be running for the doors, fearing that cheap oil will erase demand for alternative energy. But it won’t, say industry analysts. Oil and solar serve two different customers.
Oil dominates energy demand in transportation fuels, but solar power customers are primarily of two types: public electric utilities and large corporations. Neither of those use oil to generate electricity, and they are not about to start doing so, say analysts.
Less than 5 percent of the world’s electricity comes from oil; most of it comes from coal, natural gas, nuclear and, increasingly, solar power. Public utilities sign long-term agreements with solar providers, sometimes spanning 20 years. Those deals are unaffected by oil price changes, said Jeff Osborne, an analyst with Cowen Group.