Solar eclipse doesn't phase power grid

August 22, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
Solar power generation in California during the eclipse - source: Bloomberg
The eclipse across the US did not reduce power from solar panels as much as expected.

There had been widespread concerns that the total solar eclipse could reduce the power available to the US grid from photovoltaic panels, even though the totality lasted just two minutes.

The independent system operator (ISO) in California, saw a reduction of around 3,400 MW, or enough to power 3.4m homes, less than predicted.  

“Things went really, really well,” said Eric Schmitt, vice president of operations at the ISO.

California has some of the most ambitious renewable energy goals in the US and so could have been hit hardest by the eclipse. The ISO’s solar generation capacity is nearly 10,000 MW, and can serve up to 40 percent of the ISO’s load some days. It was predicting a need for 6,000 MW during the eclipse from other sources. “As we welcome increasing amounts of renewable energy onto the grid, we are learning much about emerging shifts in operations that will define the electric system of tomorrow. Our team is committed to keeping the power flowing for Californians, as we navigate the unusual circumstances presented by the eclipse,” said CEO Steve Berberich.

“The eclipse presents some grid management challenges for California and the West, however, with detailed planning and engagement among all parties we are expecting no shortage of electricity or reliability incidents related to the eclipse,” said Nancy Traweek, ISO’s executive director of system operations. “Market participants are aware this is a rare and significant solar event, and they have worked closely with us to develop plans.” She says the ISO will use lessons learned from this eclipse for the next one in 2024.

www.caiso.com


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