Oil prices have fallen by more than half since July. Just five years ago, such a plunge in fossil fuels would have put the renewable-energy industry on bankruptcy watch. Today: Meh.
Here are seven reasons why humanity’s transition to cleaner energy won’t be sidetracked by cheap oil.
1. The Sun Doesn’t Compete With Oil
Oil is for cars; renewables are for electricity. The two don’t really compete. Oil is just too expensive to power the grid, even with prices well below $50 a barrel.
Instead, solar competes with coal, natural gas, hydro, and nuclear power. Solar, the newest to the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but will be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency. Demand is so strong that the biggest limit to installations this year may be the availability of panels.
“You couldn’t kill solar now if you wanted to,” says Jenny Chase, the lead solar analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London.