When primitive people experienced a solar eclipse it caused great fear because they didn’t understand why it was happening, but we’ve come so far since then, or have we? Now, the upcoming annular solar eclipse which will pass over the western United States in October, is causing concern among the electric grid operators because so much solar has been connected to the grid.
The grid operator’s short-term forecasting team detailed the eclipse’s impacts to the region in a recent technical bulletin that shows grid-scale renewables generation is expected to decline by 9.374 GW, while at the same time, gross load will increase by 2.374 GW.
CAISO (California Independent System Operator) and ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) will be relying on natural gas to make up the difference.
“We’ve been trying to get ahead of this,” CAISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer said during his CEO report to the Western Energy Imbalance Market governing body Sept. 19. “It’ll be an interesting moment.”
Natural gas saves the day
When a completely predictable natural phenomenon is enough to cause a problem in the electric grid, maybe it’s time to rethink this plan. Since natural gas can make up for the shortfall and isn’t affected in any way by a solar eclipse, why not use natural gas all the time along with all of the other conventional power sources like coal and nuclear that are also unaffected by an eclipse? They’re affordable, efficient, reliable and available on demand, what’s not to like?
So, stable and reliable electricity or intermittent and unreliable? It’s a simple choice. What do you think?