Eclipse to cause huge dip in solar-energy production — mostly in 1 state – NewsNation Now

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(NEXSTAR) – The total solar eclipse will have an enormous but brief effect on the solar energy production of the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration confirmed Friday that Monday’s eclipse, overall, will block at least some sunlight to solar power plants that otherwise produce a combined 84.8 gigawatts of capacity.

“Solar-powered generators centered in the path of totality — where the moon will completely obscure the sun — will be affected the most because the moon will block all direct sunlight for more than four minutes,” the agency wrote.

Four minutes of interrupted production may not seem like much, but energy authorities from Texas through New England have prepared to bring other power sources online, if needed.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, had said last month that it was prepared to supplement any dip in solar-energy generation using “ancillary services for additional balancing needs,” if necessary.

“The maximum impact will occur around 13:40, reducing solar generation to about 7.6% of its maximum clear sky output,” ERCOT wrote.

Energy authorities in the Midwest, Northeast and even as far as California have also affirmed their preparedness initiatives — but it’s Texas’ grids that were expected to take the hardest hit.

Schneider Capitol Group LLC, a Pennsylvania-based firm focusing on the “energy value chain,” estimated that the U.S. will lose more than 30 gigawatts of solar-driven electricity during the April 8 eclipse, with Texas alone accounting for more than half of that with a loss of around 17 gigawatts, as reported by Bloomberg.

“Texas will lose the most solar generating capacity because most of the state is in the path that will lose 90%–99% of solar power during the eclipse,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirmed Friday, adding that solar power is now the second-largest source of midday power generation in the Lone Star State.

The U.S. is also now more reliant on solar energy than it was at the time of the 2017 eclipse, when it was the fifth-largest energy source, the EIA reported. Today, it’s estimated to be the third — even accounting for the eclipse, according to the agency.

The good news? Along with the country’s growing solar-power infrastructure, the U.S. has increased its capacity for solar-energy battery storage by more than 25 times, from 0.6 gigawatts to 15.4 gigawatts, the EIA said.

“Because we know about the eclipse ahead of time, utilities have prepared and planned for the lost solar energy,” the EIA wrote.

The total solar eclipse on April 8 is the first to pass through the U.S. since 2017, though this time its path covers a larger swath of the country and more densely populated areas.

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