A huge solar eclipse will sweep across the US on August 21 – the first time that this has happened in almost a century.
As the moon’s shadow passes along the US, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) says that the southwestern state will lose up to 70 megawatts a minute – up to three times more of a loss than is experienced in an average day.
Across the country, it will cut solar power production by roughly 9,000 megawatts – equivalent to the amount of electricity produced by 15 coal fired power plants.
Steven Greenlee, spokesperson for CAISO, told Vox: “Our solar plants are going to lose over half of their ability to generate electricity during the two to two and a half hours that the eclipse will be impacting our area.”
To compensate for a lack of solar power, the likes os CAISO will have to turn to energy sources to maintain their outputs.
Mr Greenlee said: “While solar is ramping down, we have to ramp up the other generation.
“But once the eclipse is over and the sun starts coming back, we have to ramp down the other generation in order to keep supply balanced with demand.”
Energy expert Dr James Conca says that the potential loss of energy will also be dependent on the weather that day.
He writes for Forbes: “The effect of the August eclipse will vary from place to place.
“And the effect will depend heavily on local weather. If it’s sunny, the loss of power will be large. If it is cloudy or raining, the loss will be small.”
He added: “At peak sunshine, California gets 40 per cent of its energy from solar panels, and it will lose nearly three-quarters of that during this eclipse.”