Eclipse could impact solar energy production

Eclipse could impact solar energy production

Right now, the Central Valley uses enough solar energy to power around 2 million homes, according to the California Independent System Operator. One megawatt of solar power is enough to power 1,000 homes.

Power bulls could meanwhile enjoy a rally in wholesale electricity prices due to solar's sudden slide.

The eclipse will have a predictable and manageable impact on the nation's solar production. Nevertheless, when that solar eclipse occurs in 2024, the amount of solar power connected to the grid is expected to increase significantly, so changes will need to be made between now and then to ensure the grid can handle an even greater percentage of generating capacity going off-line for an hour or longer.

Turns out the solar eclipse, set to plunge parts of the USA into total darkness on Monday, will offer exactly what the power sector's been looking for: a completely predictable stage for experiments. And some are looking forward to it - as a means of testing plants, software and markets refined in recent years in anticipation of the day when renewable energy becomes the world's dominant source of power. The department is working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and grid operators to improve software controls that balance supply and demand as the continent goes dark. DOE has yet to release the study - it's nearly two months overdue - but other researchers have noted the presence of high amounts of renewable energy in Europe has not made the grid less reliable in those nations.

But a lot of the power we use is now generated by solar and some fear we'll experience a black out.

CESA wants Californians to know the state's energy storage capabilities will help to allow its grid to weather the eclipse just fine, including resolving the high ramp rates experts suggest will hit the state on Monday.

Utilities and grid operators in these regions have plotted out comprehensive demand management strategies and have arranged substitute energy sources to dispatch as needed during the time where the shadow of the moon is directly over an area, according to the American Council on Renewable Energy, a renewable energy industry group. Even with so much of Californias energy now coming from solar, PG&E has a diverse supply of resources that allow us to meet customers needs for safe and reliable energy around the clock, ” says Nick Stavropoulos, president and COO of PG&E.

The California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) isn't anxious.

That's not true, but it will be a real juggling act for utilities to keep the output the same as solar facilities temporarily drop off line. The utility will treat it like a "gradual sunset", said spokeswoman Tammie McGee, estimating that as much as 1,200 megawatts of gas generation will help pick up the slack.

In some parts of the country, the eclipse will pack a wallop.

Steve Rowland, manager for PG&E's Fresno distribution control center, said the energy company has been preparing for the loss of solar energy for the past year.

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