Home » Preparing for the Solar Eclipse: What it Means for Solar Energy Users

Preparing for the Solar Eclipse: What it Means for Solar Energy Users

Updated April 6, 2024

white background with cartoon drawing of cat and dog wearing sunglasses. The title is Preparing for the Solar Eclipse: What it Means for Solar Energy Users

 

On April 8, 2024, a rare celestial event will unfold as a solar eclipse traverses Mexico's Pacific coast starting at 11:07 a.m. PDT, journeying across the U.S. and Canada until 5:19 p.m. EDT. While this astronomical spectacle will thrill sky watchers, it also prompts questions about its impact on solar energy generation.

During the last U.S. eclipse in 2017, solar energy production remained largely unaffected. However, with solar power now contributing around 6% of U.S. electricity, up from 1.3% in 2017, concerns arise about potential disruptions during the upcoming eclipse.

FYI: If we compare this to the 6% of electricity generated by solar power in the United States, it's roughly equivalent to the entire annual electricity consumption of a country like Brazil.

 

a geographical heat map of the share of population with access to electricity in brazil

Solcast, a leading solar modeling company, predicts that this eclipse may have a more significant impact than previous ones due to the expanded solar power generation. Their analysis, based on clear-sky irradiance modeling, suggests that in some areas, the eclipse could reduce solar generation by up to 16% of daily total clear sky irradiance.

The consequences extend beyond just a temporary dimming of sunlight. Across all grids, Solcast estimates potential losses of up to 39.9 GWh, with approximately 16.2 GWh originating from household rooftop solar panels. To put this in perspective, that's enough energy to power approximately 3.3 million homes for one day.

Grid operators are gearing up for potential disruptions. In regions within the eclipse's path of totality, solar generation will plummet, only to rapidly rebound minutes later. Texas utility ERCOT, responsible for powering 90% of the state, anticipates a loss of nearly 11% of normal generation during the eclipse's peak hours.

The eclipse is expected to peak in Texas on April 8, 2024, between 12:10 p.m. and 3:10 p.m. CDT, during peak production hours.

Reflecting on past eclipse events, such as the 2017 episode that affected California, utilities are better prepared this time around. While the eclipse may momentarily obscure the sun, advancements in grid management and alternative energy sources mitigate concerns of widespread power disruptions.

In essence, while the 2024 eclipse may briefly dim the sun's brilliance, it also illuminates the importance of diversified energy sources and adaptive grid management in our quest for sustainable power.

 

Find out if you qualify for savings programs!
Do I Qualify?

Please enter a zip code

Geraldine Dimalaluan applies her analytical prowess to unravel the intricacies of solar trends. As a seasoned data analyst, she brings a data-driven perspective to the quest for a more sustainable future.