Eclipse Will Be "First Major Test" Of Solar Power's Role In Energy Grid

Tyler Durden's picture

The first total solar eclipse in 99 years will be an unprecedented test of an American power grid that has become rapidly reliant on solar energy, according to Bloomberg. Power grids, utilities and generators are bracing for more than 12,000 megawatts of solar power to go offline starting around 9 a.m. in Oregon as the moon blocks out the sun across a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor.

The eclipse has arrived at a time when the American power grid is becoming increasingly reliant on solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

“This is the first major test of the power grid since America started bringing large amounts of intermittent solar and wind resources onto the system. It comes just as the grid is undergoing an unprecedented transformation whereby flexible resources such as battery storage will complement growing supplies of solar and wind. Solar installations have grown ninefold since 2012 and renewable sources are forecast to supply just as much of America’s electricity demand as natural gas by 2040.”

Renewable energy sources have increased dramatically, especially over the past five to ten years, said Nicholas Steckler, an analyst at Bloomberg.

“’The U.S. power grid “hasn’t seen this sort of natural phenomenon since solar became a thing,’ Nicholas Steckler, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said. ‘With so many renewables coming online, especially in the last five to ten years, there is more impact from an eclipse.’”

In most cases, regional power authorities already have back-up natural gas plants and hydroelectric power lined up to help compensate for the sudden loss of solar power. They've also promised to keep locals apprised of the situation.

“The eclipse is expected to reach the U.S. at 9:05 a.m. local time at Lincoln Beach, Oregon, and last for about four hours. Back-up, natural-gas plants and hydroelectric dams are at the ready to fill solar’s void along with new technologies to control demand.


Regional grid operators from California to Pennsylvania plan to provide real-time updates on how their networks are handling fluctuating power flows as millions of Americans head outside to gaze at the sky.”

Because it’s home to more solar power than any other state, experts will be closely watching California's response to the eclipse. According to Bloomberg, the state plans to briefly transitions to a backup network of hydropower generators and gas plants to help fill an expected 6,000-megawatt gap from the loss of solar power.

“California, home to more solar power than any other state, will tap into its network of hydropower generators and gas plants that can ramp up quickly to fill a 6,000-megawatt gap in solar energy. The state also embarked upon a public relations campaign to convince residents to conserve energy to minimize greenhouse-gas emissions while solar plants are down.”

North Carolina is expected to see the largest reduction in solar power on a percentage basis as part of the state, which lies in the eclipse’s “zone of totality” will be plunged into complete darkness. The state’s power grid is expected to lose about 2,000 megawatts, or 80 percent, of utility-scale solar farms. To prepare for this, the state is treating the eclipse like an early sunset.

“The utility will treat it like a “gradual sunset,” said Tammie McGee, a company spokeswoman, estimating that as many as 1,200 megawatts of gas generation will be called upon to pick up the slack.”

Wholesale energy prices could see a brief spike, particularly in California, where the typical midday jump in electricity costs might be longer and steeper than on a normal day.

“Wholesale electricity prices may rally on solar’s sudden slide. The eclipse will start curbing power supplies a little after 9 a.m. on the West Coast, just when the work week is starting and demand is taking off. According to energy data provider Genscape Inc., the event may extend the typical period of high power prices in California by about two hours.”

Anyone interested in watching the eclipse should use the proper precautions. Experts have warned that looking directly at the sun during the eclipse, while wearing sunglasses. Observers could suffer temporary or permanent loss of eyesight unless they use special eyeglasses designed to withstand the sun’s rays.

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Perimetr's picture

Every night there is a major test of the solar system.

Amazingly enough, it always works fine when the sun comes back up.

J S Bach's picture

This reminds me of the classic horror/fantasy novel by William Hope Hodgson called "Nightland" in which the sun has burnt itself out and there is perpetual darkness.  Absurd, but interesting fiction.

Haus-Targaryen's picture

That is stupid fiction.  We'd all be dead in a month. 

Other stupid fiction I've heard of is the sun turning into a red giant or a neutron star traversing our solar-system and it sucking us in.  

Complete rubbish. 

BaBaBouy's picture

WTF, 19% Nuke Power?
That Shit is still in there? Pumping out Used Plutonium rods that have to be stored and Cooled for 50,000 years...

Millenials should be Freaking.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

No, this will NOT be a 'test' of the power grid because a MOVING spot 77 miles in diameter goes black for less than 3 minutes. Has no one ever heard of regions, or even half the country, covered by thick clouds that dramatically reduce solar cell output?

Sensationalism at its best.

At worst, local utilities that have a high portion of solar generation might need to draw from the national grid for 30 minutes or so.

BaBaBouy's picture

Its not about generating solar etc, its about STORING it..

L-ion batteries for grid storage is soaring.
Cobalt, a main ingredient, is up 127% y/y !

tmosley's picture

>The first total solar eclipse in 99 years


SethPoor's picture
Something doesn’t add up.

The scientists are all talking like it’s a sure thing.

On August 21, the “moon” will pass between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the light of the latter. The government agency NASA says this will result in “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights.” The astronomers there claim to have calculated down to the minute exactly when and where this will happen, and for how long. They have reportedly known about this eclipse for years, just by virtue of some sort of complex math.

This seems extremely unlikely. I can’t even find these eclipse calculations on their website to check them for myself.

Meanwhile the scientists tell us we can’t look at it without special glasses because “looking directly at the sun is unsafe.”

That is, of course, unless we wear glasses that are on a list issued by these very same scientists. Meanwhile shysters generate untold revenue from these “eclipse glasses."

Let’s follow the money a little further. Hotels along the “path of totality”—a region drawn up by Obama-era NASA scientists—have been sold out for months.

In fact the entire politico-scientifico-corporate power structure is aligned behind the eclipse. This includes the mainstream media. How many news stories have you read about how the eclipse won’t happen?

You’d think there would be a balanced look at even considering the idea that the eclipse isn’t going to happen. It’s like no one is even thinking to question this. Where are their voices? Why does google give no results as to stories questioning the validity of this "event"?


Arnold's picture

How does an eclipse calculate out on a flat Earth?
Maff is hard.

Arnold's picture

That was well worth reading, and putting into my large fagetaboutit knowledge locker.

Rahu and Ketu – The Evergreen Villains Or Cosmic Agents Of Change?

tmosley's picture

This eclipse has been known about for thousands of years.

Stop being stupid.

Erek's picture

Scientist: The sun will theoretically expand into a red giant in about 50 million years, turning the earth into a crispy critter.

Voice in the back: Should I give a fuck?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

The article discusses generating power.

And while solar STORAGE may eventually transition to L-ion storage, for now the most economical way to store electricity is via the tried and true 'wet' lead acid-battery, used in nearly all existing photo-voltaic systems.

Most of the L-ion is being used for batteries for electric autos.

Secret Weapon's picture

Agreed.  I have a 10KW solar array out at my rural property here in East Texas.  I looked at all of the available power storage options and wet cell lead acid was the best option out there.  It cost a fraction of the other options and with proper maintenance it will last 10+years easy. I went with two forklift batteries each weighing about 2,000 pounds each.  Worked out great. 

Lumberjack's picture

If and when all this offshore wind takes place. A cat 3 hurricane will end it. Self immolation seems to be doing a pretty good job on the onshore ones.

SWRichmond's picture

This is one of those phony stories, set up for success so they can later brag about how solar met the challenge and how "reliable" it is.

Amazingly enough, it always works fine when the sun comes back up.

And predictably enough, it always turns off when the sun goes down.  I didn't want heat or A/C at night anyway, right?

tmosley's picture

No, they just have to be stored until the US unfucks itself and makes with the LFTRs. Then they will be burned to 1% waste (of useful isotopes), rather than to 99% waste.

HenryKissingerBilderberg's picture

and this is why we need tanks on the streets and trillioon welfare subsidies for the billionaires...


J S Bach's picture

Of course, it's rubbish, but I wouldn't call it "stupid".  It was written before scientists even knew the basic driving power source of our star.  Hodgson had an incredible imagination and inspired such future writers as HP Lovecraft.  A great short story about a sea monster is his "A Tropical Horror".

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"It was written before scientists even knew the basic driving power source of our star."

May I humbly suggest that scientists STILL don't know what the basic driving force of our star is?

kochevnik's picture

Einstein and his silly spacetime retarded progress by at least a century. Meanwhile secret experiments with the either continued as universities taught obsolete traverse wave toys

Space and time are artifacts. like shadows. Today one can measure a shadow and say he is doing "hard science." Nothing happens, and funding continues!

tmosley's picture

Yeah, that's why stupid things like computers and GPS don't work!

Solio's picture

Well, it doesn't really come back up.

Other than that, ok.

StarGate's picture

ECLIPSE: Bigger Test for the USA.
Like the Phoenix symbol on the Great Seal can the USA rise from the ashes of its past?

The AntiFA needs to be ID'd as the anarchist organization it is. There really are not that many of them.
Don't fight them. Corral them and disarm them. OFF with their MASKS. Then take PICS and POST them. Help AG Sessions to ID them.

mc888's picture

They're not anarchist, they're Communist. Founded by Trotsky.

Just shoot anyone wearing a mask. Communist Control Act of 1954.

lordkoos's picture

Ya think?  This has to be one of the stupidest ZH headlines ever.  And that is saying a lot.

roadhazard's picture

For two minutes I don't think so.

itstippy's picture

You don't think so?  But what if????  Best be prepared, my friend.

I've stocked up on Utz Cheez Balls, King Oscar Smoked Herring Snax, bottled water, and parasols just in case.  From what I understand, half the World's population will go blind.  It's like looking at pictures of Angela Merkel naked with her shirt off - it causes irreparable retinal damage.  Imagine hordes of blind, sex-crazed lunatics lurching about desperately trying to get their solar powered cars functional again.

With the Sun blocked off there will be no photosynthesis - the corn will stop growing!  No corn, no Utz Cheez Balls!  Think about that before you get overconfident.  This eclipse has the potential to be every bit as devastating as the Y2K computer bug.  


Theta_Burn's picture

Didn't know that 3% of power generation loss could bring America to a halt..

And bitcoin'rs feel safe...

pods's picture

Its like a big ass cloud moving across the country.  This sounds like a big nothingburger.


taketheredpill's picture



Observers could suffer temporary or permanent loss of eyesight unless they use special eyeglasses designed to withstand the sun’s rays.

I wonder how many people will be blinded because they bough "Eclipse Glasses" on-line from some sketchy Chinese exporter.

spastic_colon's picture

i saw a story the other day that "warned" pet owners to make sure their pets were inside because they could go blind "if" they looked at the eclipse; i kid you not..........even animals are not stupid enough to look at the sun let alone understand what the hell an eclipse is.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Our daughter, who is away at college in Richmond VA, informed us the city of Richmond posted an alert about keeping your pets inside less they go blind as a bat from staring at the eclipse.

I suspect it was actually directed at all the snowflake college students, but don't quote me on that. But the student body is definitely snowflake material and definitely in an uproar about the Eclipse.

All this originating from a city that isn't in, not even very near, the path of totality.


Whoa Dammit's picture

It's too bad that staring at the sun won't make the snowflakes go mute.

buzzsaw99's picture

oregon, that solar superpower, lulz

Arnold's picture

In my time in Oregon, I never saw the Sun once.
Same with West Virginia.

I began to question if it was really there.

Cardinal Fang's picture

This article's pablum tastes like bullshit.

ShorTed's picture

"The sky is falling", still.

spastic_colon's picture

this story is true evidence of headline overload................another slow news lifetime

Colonel's picture

The eclipse is bread and circuses for the plebes. The asswipes will even use natural phenomena.

Vorian Atreides's picture

Stupid article--what happens during the 8-12 hours each night?