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

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.


Cognitive Dissonance BaBaBouy Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:30 Permalink

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.

In reply to by BaBaBouy

SethPoor tmosley Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:51 Permalink

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"? 

In reply to by tmosley

Secret Weapon Cognitive Dissonance Mon, 08/21/2017 - 11:17 Permalink

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. 

In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance

SWRichmond BaBaBouy Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:31 Permalink

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?

In reply to by BaBaBouy

J S Bach Haus-Targaryen Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:29 Permalink

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".

In reply to by Haus-Targaryen

StarGate Perimetr Mon, 08/21/2017 - 22:50 Permalink

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.

In reply to by Perimetr

itstippy roadhazard Mon, 08/21/2017 - 10:00 Permalink

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.   

In reply to by roadhazard

taketheredpill Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:14 Permalink

  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.

Cognitive Dissonance spastic_colon Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:52 Permalink

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.LOL

In reply to by spastic_colon