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Historic Eclipse will test US solar-power grid like … clouds do

Eclipse Map: NASA

Feel the panic. Or not.

Historic Eclipse Will Test America’s Grid as Solar Waxes, Wanes

Grid operators, utilities and electricity generators are bracing for more than 12,000 megawatts of solar power to start falling offline as the moon blocks out the sun across a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.

This is the first major test of the power grid since America started bringing large amounts of intermittent solar and wind resources onto the system. It comes just as the grid is undergoing an unprecedented transformation whereby flexible resources such as battery storage will complement growing supplies of solar and wind.

Reader Andrew writes: “The path of totality is trivially narrow although the partial eclipse is quite wide. But they mustn’t have clouds in the US.”


Looks like it is being marketed as some kind of dummy run to “prove” intermittent energy will not hurt the grid when it “takes over”?

The celestial event provides an opportunity to test plants, software and markets refined in recent years in anticipation of the day when renewable energy becomes the dominant source of power.

Or perhaps it’s just the faithful reassuring themselves that the eclipse won’t end up being another disastrous blackout other people can blame on renewables. Look at how much trouble they have to go to:

California, home to more solar power than any other state, will tap into its network of hydropower generators and gas plants that can ramp up quickly to fill a 6,000-megawatt gap in solar energy. The state also embarked upon a public relations campaign to convince residents to conserve energy to minimize greenhouse-gas emissions while solar plants are down.

These stories of fear of a grid breakdown or “whiplash” have been going on for months:

May 2nd:   The US is using so much solar power that it will have to prepare for the August eclipse.

See also:  Solar Eclipse 2017: Californians Urged To Conserve Energy including 10 tips to conserve energy at home.

Back then the dire predictions for the frightening drop in production were graphed like this:

Electricity supply, california, eclipse.


Which is not quite like the volatility we see with wind power nearly every day:

Wind power, volatility.

And graphed as MW:
MW generation, wind energy, Austrtalian national network, NEM.


The Australian National grid deals with about 3,500MW of wind power coming and going all the time and without 3 months to plan for it. Surely California can cope with 6,000?

I predict happy stories tomorrow of how the-solar-grid survived the test.

The Europeans, of course, have been there and done that already. “How Solar-Heavy Europe Avoided a Blackout during Total Eclipse”

PS: WUWT will carry the eclipse LIVE starting at 9AM EDT, available here: http://wp.me/p7y4l-KLi

h/t Pat and Andrew and Analytic

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