Grid parity always seems to be around the corner. It's already there in sunnier parts of Southern Europe and South Africa. But what about the U.S.? Is there anywhere it's already reached grid parity?
As it turns out, the answer is yes. In Dallas, Texas, it's possible today to purchase a solar panel system which over the course of 40 years (the active service life of installed solar panels, with data reaching back to the 1970s), the per kilowatt cost of solar panels installed today is at par with electricity bought from the spot market.
We're not there yet for the rest of the country for varying reasons, but I suspect we're pretty close.
Now we may ask a particularly relevant question:
What does this mean?
Well let's take a couple of scenarios:
Let's say that fossil fuels are doomed to decline over the next twenty years or so.
Technology will be developed to unlock the vast resource of unconventional fossil fuels.
In the case of Scenario #1, the price of fossil fuels will start on an upward slope and since it will be far cheaper to generate power from solar panels then that's exactly what we'll get.
The economy will probably grow slower initially since although the electrical economy is more efficient than the fossil fuels powered one, renewables are starting from further back and so will take some time to build up a head of steam.
In Scenario #2 we will get more of the same (i.e. greater quantities of fossil fuels than before). The economy will continue to grow based on the old paradigm, but technology will continue to advance and the transition to a sustainable renewables powered electrical economy will just take longer than in scenario #1.
In either case, however, we're not going to be seeing any kind of dieoff graph. Instead we're going to continue to see the global economy grow.