Solar Eclipse Essentials

How is your organization preparing?

Laura_Sanchez_Editor

Not only has the US become more energy dependent since the last total solar eclipse took place in 1979, its energy infrastructure has become increasingly reliant on solar energy. So what will happen on August 21st when the sun is temporarily obscured by the moon?

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry has grown an average of 68% each year in the past decade to reach today’s total installed capacity of 45-gigawatts.

The upcoming solar event will reportedly prevent 70% of the sun’s solar radiation from reaching the earth for a period of a couple of hours. During that time, the federal Energy Information Administration estimates that about 1,900 utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants will be affected.  You can enter your zip code in this interactive map to see how your area will experience the eclipse.

How are utilities preparing for the event? Most solar facilities have mapped out step-by-step demand management strategies in anticipation of the day of and have arranged for the dispatch of alternative energy sources to maintain grid reliability and fill the demand gap.

“Our solar plants are going to lose over half of their ability to generate electricity during the two to two and a half hours that the eclipse will be impacting our area,” Steven Greenlee, spokesperson for the California Independent System Operator, or CAISO, told VOX.

Furthermore, managing the timing of solar event procedures will be complicated since the solar radiation will fade and re-appear much faster than it normally does. Therefore, utilities will have to balance the flow of electrons with a finessed approach, by quickly increasing and reducing auxiliary generation.

Eclipse

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Scientific Visualization Studio

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) says it doesn’t expect the eclipse to create reliability issues for the bulk power system but “recommends that utilities in all states perform specific studies of the eclipse’s impact of solar photovoltaic power output on their systems and retain necessary resources to meet the increased electricity demand requirements.”

How will your organization be affected by the eclipse? What measures is your team doing to prepare? DE_bug_web

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