A solar eclipse predicted by NASA on Aug. 21 is unlikely to cause any reliability issues to the North American bulk power system, a NERC white paper finds. However, the white paper recommends preparation and increased coordination by system planners and operators to understand how this phenomena will impact power flows and resource commitment.
The white paper -- A Wide-Area Perspective on the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse -- further recommends that utilities in all states perform specific studies of the eclipse’s impact of solar photovoltaic power output on their systems and retain necessary resources to meet the increased electricity demand requirements. Generation and system operators have more control of utility-scale solar resources; however, operational planning and advanced power system studies must account for the impacts that may not be completely visible to the system operator, such as distributed and roof-top solar photovoltaic resources.
While solar generation levels are relatively low, states including California and North Carolina are likely to experience the greatest impact to solar photovoltaic resources and system operations during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, according to the NERC paper.
As more solar generation is integrated into the bulk power system, solar eclipse phenomena will need to be studied more broadly. However, given the highly predictive nature of the event, NERC has confidence that reliability can be maintained by system operators through comprehensive planning and awareness..