But there is at least one group of people who are getting totally crushed by the fall in oil prices. Spoiler alert.. its not the solar people. In fact, its the opposite, its the fracking people. Fracking shops large and small are packing it in as the economics of their existence literally changed overnight. Chesapeake Energy, a $12b energy conglomerate, saw their stock fall 22% in 2014, mostly because of the oil price adjustments of the final quarter. And its starting now to affect the downstream economic benefactors of fracking. The deli down the street from the new fracking operation? Its losing money. The new apartment complex in the small fracking town? People are leaving. Things are not looking good for this once claimed "savior of domestic energy production" as it is getting a hard lesson in short term vs long term economics. More on the downstream effects at this link here.
The reason fracking is getting fracked is simple. Fracking is a more expensive enhanced recovery technology than primary or secondary recovery still used by many oil rich areas in the world. This more expensive approach makes plenty of sense (and money) when the global price of oil is high, but it makes no sense (and can lose vast sums of money depending on contractual and land lease arrangements) when the global price for oil is low. The sliding scale economics of oil production are well discussed in the 2006 book Bottomless Well by Peter Huber who makes the prediction that humans will never "run out" of fossil fuels due to new recovery technologies becoming cost effective as the primary and secondary recovery production slows and oil prices rise.
But the problem with investing in new technology in the oil business is that access to the raw material, oil still in the ground, is not spread out equally for everyone. It is in no way democratic, and it many ways is the opposite of democratic. It is therefore inherently unstable, as the actions of a few can affect the business plans of the many.
Solar energy, on the other hand, has a raw material, sun hitting the ground, which is far more (but not perfectly) democratic. When you own a house or land, it comes complete with free sunshine which you can use if you choose to do so. This is not the case for potential oil under your property. It therefore enjoys a far more stable long term outlook, which may be a very important but currently under appreciated competitive advantage. Today, A business plan built on solar energy is very very stable and very predictable compared to other forms of energy. This is one of the reasons why even with low cost oil, investment in clean technology and solar is still doing quite well, as discussed in this link here.
So solar supports around the world, do not fret! The fact that fracking is eating its own tail and contributing to turmoil in oil markets is in the long term going to make solar energy look even brighter!