Quantcast

How the Solar Industry Is Getting Ready for the Great American Eclipse

Popular
SolarSeven

This August, Americans will have a rare opportunity to see a total solar eclipse from their homeland, but it will also be a misfortune for solar arrays nationwide.


The Great American Solar Eclipse, as scientists and enthusiasts are referring to it, will be Aug. 21 and people from across the globe are expected to be lining up along the path of totality (the sliver of land where the moon can be seen completely blocking the sun), which cuts straight through the states. The 70-mile-wide stretch that spans from Oregon to South Carolina will have the greatest views of the celestial event, but it will also lose out on precious solar energy for a few minutes across the board. And, those outside the path will experience a widespread partial solar eclipse that will cover the nation almost entirely.

The path of totality is 70 miles wide and spans across multiple states. NASA

A recent report from the California Independent System Operator (ISO), is predicting that this event will cause a sharp drop in solar production. In California alone, which serves the U.S. with 10,000 megawatts of solar power a year—half the nation's solar energy—there will be a 70-megawatt drop per minute while the shadow of the moon blankets Earth. But, immediately following the eclipse, there will be a 90 megawatt uptake per minute. The ISO report states that there will be a net loss of about 6,000 Megawatts, that's enough to power a small city.

To prepare for this loss, the U.S. is looking to Europe for guidance, which gets 90 percent of new electricity from renewable sources, as of a 2016 report. They have determined that they will have to allocate resources from hydroelectric and natural gas to make up for the loss, but the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) doesn't believe the U.S. should be all that concerned.

"We don't call it a reliability issue, but it's an impact to the system operations and something operators need to do some planning to prepare for," John Moura, NERC director, told the Financial Times.

This is the first time grid operators have even had to consider the effects of a solar eclipse on such a large scale. But, as the U.S. increases renewable energy sources, this kind of event will have to be taken into greater consideration. Although solar eclipses are usually in a remote area and very rarely cross through the entire continental U.S, there are expected to be six more by the end of the 21st century.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less