A total solar eclipse that will take place on August 21 is threatening the power generation capacity of solar farms and rooftop panels which can affect nearly 7 million households in United States. The rare eclipse will be visible along a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, a Bloomberg report said. According to NASA, it was in 1979 when US saw such a solar eclipse. About 9000 megawatts power generating capacity by solar farms and rooftop panels are likely to go down this time, which is equivalent to about nine nuclear reactors, the report added.
The Washington Post reported that the total solar eclipse will traverse coast to coast after nearly a century. As there has been ninefold increase in dependency on solar power in US, this event will highlight the risks associated with relying on an intermittent resource for energy, as per Bloomberg. The total solar eclipse will occur between 12:05 pm and 4:09 pm (New York time). A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the Earth and the Sun. The shadow directly under the moon, called the umbra, is a total eclipse, as per reports.
Experts say that this could spike the prices of wholesale power, especially during summer as demand surges. Tom DiCapua, managing director at Con Edison Energy in New York said if the day is sunny and suddenly the eclipse comes through, there may be a pricing spike in real-time, as per Bloomberg. Steven Greenlee, spokesman for the grid operator, has said the market will need to fill a gap of 6,008 megawatts.
The biggest impact to solar power generation may be in California as it meets about 40 percent of the state’s demand on some days. The eclipse may dim solar radiation by about 70 percent, said Dave Quinn, a power market analyst in US. Other states like North Carolina and New Jersey may also bear the brunt as many panels are installed there, the report said.