Utilities and electric grid coordinators are preparing for a total solar eclipse that is projected to temporarily reduce solar photovoltaic generation across parts of North America this summer.
The 2017 total solar eclipse will be the first in the U.S. in 26 years (since Hawaii 1991), and the first in the lower 48 states since 1979. While the duration of the total eclipse across the U.S. will be roughly 93 minutes, some areas in its path will experience up to 95% of the Sun being obscured.
The eclipse is projected to affect solar PV generation. Solar resources occupy an increasing role in the U.S. electric generating portfolio. Between 2000 and 2016, total U.S. solar capacity increased from 5 megawatts (MW) to 42,619 MW. But as more solar resources are connected to the grid, the potential impact of an eclipse on grid operations may change.
According to a May 1, 2017 presentation to the Board of Governors of the California ISO, the eclipse is projected to reduce solar output in the CAISO region by 4,194 megawatts, while gross load will increase by 1,365 MW. Taking into account estimated wind production, the presentation projects a net load increase of 6,008 MW during the eclipse.
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