Full Solar Eclipse To Impact US Solar PV Production

EIA Says Utilities Prepared For Lost Solar Energy On April 8, 2024; Largest Loss Expected In Texas

Full Solar Eclipse To Impact US Solar PV Production

EIA says the US utilities are ready with their contingency plans to ensure smooth power supply during the April 8, 2024 solar eclipse in North America. (Photo Credit: US Energy Information Administration)

  • The US EIA says it expects a combined 6.5 GW utility-scale solar generation to be impacted by the full solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 
  • A total of 84.8 GW solar capacity will be impacted by the partially blocked sunlight in a larger part of the US 
  • Texas will experience the largest loss, losing 90% to 99% of solar power from its utility-scale facilities 
  • It will be a time for the battery storage technology to prove its worth to balance the grid 

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says state utilities have prepared and planned for the expected solar energy loss from the April 8, 2024 full solar eclipse when Texas is likely to be hit the most as it lies in the path of totality. 

The full solar eclipse is forecasted to fully block sunlight for utility-scale solar facilities from Texas through Maine with a combined 6.5 GW capacity. This path of totality will see all sunlight blocked for over 4 minutes. 

Additionally, it is expected to partially block sunlight to facilities with a combined 84.8 GW capacity in an even larger area of the US around peak solar generating time. The partial eclipse could limit the sunlight in the path of totality for more than 2 hours. 

At the end of 2023, the cumulative US installed solar PV capacity reached 177 GW DC, according to the US Solar Market Insight 2023 Year in Review (see 2023 US Solar Additions Set Record With 32.4 GW). 

Currently, solar is the largest source of mid-day generation in California and the 2nd largest source of midday generation in Texas, Florida and other parts of the East Coast, and in the Southwest. During the 2017 solar eclipse, it was the 5th leading energy source in the country. 

During the April 8 solar eclipse, Texas, with its utility-scale solar generation facilities, lies in the path that will lose 90% to 99% of solar power, according to the agency. 

California, on the other hand, lies in the 40% to 59% eclipse range as its significant use of utility-scale and small-scale solar capacity makes the eclipse’s impact more significant. 

Among other states, Florida is likely to be the 2nd leading energy source on the system and accounts for about 20% of the state’s total generation, according to EIA. 

EIA expects solar eclipse to challenge the electricity grid for which the utilities have planned in advance. Firstly, utility-scale generation projects of 1 MW or above, managed by balancing authorities, will have a lower output. The system operators will dispatch other generating resources to make up for the lost solar power since homes and businesses operating small-scale projects will need more grid electricity during the eclipse. 

During the eclipse, the role of the US’ battery energy storage capacity will be significant in the grid’s response. From 600 MW of battery storage capacity in the US during the 2017 eclipse, it now has 15.4 GW capacity, according to EIA.  

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says the total solar eclipse will cross North America passing over Mexico, the US and Canada. The 1st location in continental North America that is expected to experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific Coast at around 11:07 AM PDT. 

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Senior News Editor: Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews. --Email : [email protected] --

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