As a counter to my constant pessimism, a case can be made that solar power really can dramatically reduce fossil fuel consumption. The technology is improving so rapidly that it should become so cheap that people will naturally make the switch in the coming years.
Free market types will pretend this is some sort of victory for laissez faire economic theories. But it's another example of important nature of public subsidy for high tech industry. Not every element associated with the development of solar technology occurred with public subsidy, but key costly ones were. Bell Laboratories as a government sanctioned monopoly, was able to engage in the kind of R&D that isn't concerned only with short term profits. In 1954 they developed the first solar cell capable of powering electrical equipment. This was then exploited by NASA, first with Vangaurd I in 1958 and then with subsequent satellites during a time when it was simply too costly for commercial use.
Obviously today the technological advancements come about with the aid of computers and the internet, both developed with public subsidy. This is not to discount the importance of private individuals exploiting the technology because it is profitable. So for instance in the mid 50's Bridgers and Paxton, an engineering firm, created an office building heated by solar power which is still in use today. Private individuals exploiting the technology helps advance the technology as well. But the public subsidy is key. I would suggest that without it this wouldn't be happening. And it could go a long way towards increasing the chances of survival for our species.
Climate change is a long term problem and cannot easily be addressed by corporations that can only consider relatively short term profitability.