It is now a question of how and where, not if, solar becomes a dominant force in energy markets.
AllianceBernstein’s Michael Parker and Flora Chang published a note last week with the following chart showing how rapidly the cost of solar on a real dollars per million BTU equivalent basis has, in many instances, come to match that of conventional fuels. Nothing else looks like this — and the title of the chart, Welcome to the Terrordome, reflects this almost violent decline in solar pricing.
Exhibit 2 is the chart the solar industry has been working towards for 60 years. Solar is now — in the right conditions — cheaper than oil and Asian LNG on an MMBTU basis. Yes, we are using utility- scale solar costs in developing markets with lots of sun. But that describes the growth markets for global energy today. For these markets solar is just cheap, clean, convenient, reliable energy. And since it is a technology, it will get even cheaper over time. Fossil fuel extraction costs will keep rising. There is a massive global market for cheap energy and that market is oblivious to policy changes at the NDRC, MITI, the EU or the CPUC.
Solar still comprises a tiny fraction of overall energy usage on an absolute basis, about 0.17%. But this is an unstoppable trend.
(Actually, solar utilities seem to have been around for longer than 60 years: we actually dug through the Library of Congress image archives to find a solar water heater dated 1929:)