Once upon a time, OPEC ruled the world, or at least most of the world’s oil supplies, which virtually amounted to the same thing. The rollercoaster ride of falling oil prices since 2014 challenges the invincibility of that reign, particularly when it comes to the so called “Fragile 5”: Venezuela, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria and Iraq, the less powerful members of OPEC. With prices around $50 a barrel currently, the social and economic chaos this has caused in these countries has been immense. Venezuela’s problems have been particularly intense, with shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and frequent power outages. More powerful OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia, which have been less impacted by the low oil prices, are unwilling to address pricing issues in ways that might help the more vulnerable members, which basically means every OPEC country for itself. Analysts are predicting particularly dire scenarios for the “Fragile Five” if this situation continues long term.

In the midst of this, solar alternatives to fossil fuel continue to go down in price. The transportation industry benefits from this as renewable energy makes further inroads into various sectors. eNow’s low cost solar panels are now used by trucking fleets across the country and save them millions of dollars per year in additional fuel costs associated with idling. This is win-win all around as cutting down on idling also means less CO2 emitted into the environment. In addition, the panels harvest solar energy for various truck appliances like refrigerators, and are also being used in the RV realm now as well to charge various appliance batteries.

As OPEC descends into free fall, investors need to look more seriously at renewable energy alternatives, including solar. The social and economic chaos that has broken out among the “Fragile Five” countries of OPEC can easily spread over time, which will have worldwide impact. As solar energy solutions for transportation become more affordable, industry professionals and consumers alike will flock to them. The trend is just beginning, with billions of dollars at stake as well as our environment. The smart money should move toward new solutions, not an industry quickly moving into its sunset phase.