There is a total solar eclipse expected in the U.S. on August 21, 2017. It’s a pretty cool sight to behold. There are even eclipse chasers that travel around the world just to witness these heavenly wonders. However, your solar panels are only as good as the amount of sun shining. So how will this awesome event affect your home’s solar power?
Total Solar Eclipse
According to NASA, an eclipse is when one heavenly body moves into the shadow of another heavenly body. When the moon moves between the sun and earth during orbit, it blocks the sun from reaching the planet and creates a solar eclipse. Therefore, a total solar eclipse is when the moon, sun, and earth are in complete alignment. Only a small portion of the country will be without sunlight this year, from Oregon southeast across the country to South Carolina. If you can see the total eclipse, that means you are in the center of the moon’s shadow.
Solar Eclipse vs. The Grid
The last total solar eclipse seen in the U.S. was in 1979. Since then, the solar industry has grown more than 50% per year. We now have more solar energy plants contributing to the grid and many homes have grid connected PV systems. With so many of us depending on solar, what happens to the grid when the moon obscures the sun’s rays that help to power our homes?
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) does not expect the solar eclipse to create issues with the majority of the country, especially in Texas which will only experience 50% – 80% partial obscurity. Power systems can still function even with the sun blotted out. Power plants will just use other sources to fill in those three hours of lost solar power.
Small Home Solar Systems
Most of the small home solar systems in Texas most likely won’t be affected more than they would on a cloudy day. If you are worried about your consumption during the solar eclipse, you can always reduce your energy usage during the few hours of the eclipse. But with the use of solar backup batteries, you should be just fine.
Good For the Future
This total solar eclipse provides a good opportunity for research and improvement. It will test the reliability of solar power on a national scale and challenge the preparedness of power plant operators. Electric companies can discover ways to improve the grid and create solutions for future events like this.