A Public Service Announcement
Now that more and more Americans are receiving their electricity via solar energy, government officials worry that the electrical grid may become overloaded from a surge of energy backfeeding into the U.S. grid directly following the solar eclipse as light from the sun reemerges and hitting solar.
Right now state utilities are planning to deal with the surge which is “capable of crippling the nation,” according to an ABC News report.
Here's how the solar eclipse will affect the US power grid
The MDA Weather Service predicts that solar generation potential will decrease to less than 50% of capacity nationwide.
In California, the eclipse is expected to wipe out six gigawatts of solar electricity, according to CAISO, the operator responsible for 80% of the state’s power. Six gigawatts is enough to power several million homes. In 2017, solar facilities, ranging from utility power plants to individual PV panels, provided electricity for 4.8 million homes.
Solar Eclipse Will Impact State Power Grid
Operators of California’s utility power grid have been preparing for August’s total solar eclipse for months.
Steven Greenlee works for California ISO – an independent operator of the states high-voltage grid. He says his organization is predicting a lose 6,000 megawatts of power during the eclipse.
“For us it’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be a busy day behind the scenes.”
To put Greenlee’s prediction into content. One megawatt will power about 1,000 homes so during the eclipse the grid will lose the equivalent of the power needed for 600,000 homes.
Solar Eclipse Could Cause Power Grid Problems
"When you're in an area of a full eclipse, a 70 mile wide band. when that band, when the darkness comes across these solar farms, their power drops to zero so their contribution to the power grid is zero," says Electrical Engineer Peter Jackson.
The eclipse will mean that solar panels will be totally without power, at least for a few minutes during the eclipse. The last time this happened in 1979, solar panels weren't widely used. But solar panels are a big contributor to the grid now. Experts say even a small disruption, could cause bigger issues.
"So the generators, like nuclear and coal, have to all of a sudden ramp up. Then the eclipse goes away, people are still using power but the solar cells come back online and creates a surge of power generation," explains Jackson.
According to Jackson, Salisbury is at risk of losing 80 percent of the power that solar panels normally direct to the grid, but other areas across the country may be more impacted. On the heels of the possible issue, some residents say they are concerned about the technology they use every day.
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