Here’s an answer to the question of How long until solar beats gas?
Gayle Reaves wrote for fwweekly 11 July 2012, Serious about Solar,
Even on not-so-sunny days, solar still produces. David Power, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, said that back in February, when cold weather and power plant outages produced blackouts, CPS‘ solar farm was on line and producing. “It was a pretty nasty day, cloudy, and there was a couple of inches of ice on the solar farm,” he said. “But they were still getting 30 to 35 percent of normal production out of it, even on the worst day you could imagine.”
Costs for solar panels have dropped dramatically in the last few years, although by some measures solar energy is still more expensive than that from gas-burning plants.
Power said that the comparisons that show solar to be more expensive are measuring the cost of building a solar plant compared to generating power from a fossil-fuel plant that may have been built and paid for decades ago. In marginal cost comparisons, he said, solar power comes out as costing either the same or less than building a new natural gas plant. “For that you have to get air quality permits and pay for fuel costs,” he said. “For the other, the sun shines, you get electricity, and you just have to wash it off once in a while if it doesn’t rain.”
So the answer is it’s already happened: solar beats gas now. So Southern Company’s fracking plan B makes no more sense than its nuclear Plan A.