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California grid readies for solar eclipse

8 Aug 2017, 8.52 pm GMT

California grid readies for solar eclipse

Houston, 8 August (Argus) — California should have sufficient power generation capacity to meet demand during the 21 August solar eclipse after more than a year planning for the event.

Generation sources will need to provide about 6,000 MW of additional power from 9am to noon on the day of the eclipse, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) said, to make up for an estimated loss of 4,194 MW of large-scale solar electricity production, and about 1,365 MW of rooftop solar generation. CAISO said it will use more flexible generation sources that can ramp up quickly to make up for the difference, including hydropower and natural gas plants.

Solar generation makes up approximately 10pc of California's electricity mix. CAISO's solar generation capacity is nearly 10,000 MW, and is capable of serving up to 40pc of the grid operator's load.

Though California will not see a total eclipse, northern California is expected to see a 76pc eclipse, while southern California will see a 58pc eclipse.

The eclipse is expected to cause a rapid decrease, and then increase, in solar generation, which can place stress on the system. When solar plants come back online quickly, they can cause oversupply conditions and frequency management issues, for which CAISO, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), utilities and other state energy officials say they have been planning.

The grid operator noted that the transfer capability among western EIM participants will offer additional flexibility.

On 21 August, the eclipse will cast a 70-mile shadow across 14 US states, ranging from Oregon to South Carolina. It will be the first coast-to-coast eclipse in 99 years.

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