Move over dirty fossil fuels, the solar revolution is coming.
That, at least, is the buried headline contained in new reporting from Reuters on Sunday which looks at the ability of the solar industry to upend the world’s energy system in ways similar to recent innovations which allowed oil and gas companies to squeeze previously unattainable deposits from underground shale formations.
With a focus on Japan, Reuters catalogs how the rising capacity and falling prices of solar energy—even as it currently survives without contributions from a fleet of dormant nuclear plants —has led the country to turn off its “giant oil-fired power plants” one after another.
The news agency reports:
Japan is retiring nearly 2.4 gigawatts of expensive and polluting oil-fired energy plants by March next year and switching to alternative fuels. Japan’s 43 nuclear reactors have been closed in the wake of the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima power plant after an earthquake and a tsunami – since then, renewable energy capacity has tripled to 25 gigawatts, with solar accounting for more than 80 percent of that.
Once Japan reaches cost-revenue parity in solar energy, it will mean the technology is commercially viable in all G7 countries and 14 of the G20 economies, according to data from governments, industry and consumer groups.
A crash in the prices of photovoltaic panels and improved technology that harnesses more power from the sun has placed solar on the cusp of a global boom, analysts say, who compare its rise to shale oil.
“Just as shale extraction reconfigured oil and gas, no other technology is closer to transforming power markets than distributed and utility scale solar,” said consultancy Wood Mackenzie, which has a focus on the oil and gas industry.