There may be a slight loss of power during the eclipse, researchers say

KUSA - The entire country will be in some degree of darkness during Monday's eclipse.

The moon's shadow will move across the U.S., at more than a thousand miles per hour, and the maximum length of totality will only be two minutes and forty seconds.

One might think that's not enough time to impact the power grid due to the loss of solar energy, but power companies are preparing for a slight loss. 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, will be conducting research on that loss of solar energy.

The loss of power is not expected to be very significant, according to NREL researcher, Yingchen Zhang, but he does say there will be some dip in solar power production across the country. He also says the eclipse is perfect for experiments.

"The timing and intensity of the darkness, at various points, is easily forecast with the eclipse," Zhang said. "As opposed to cloudy weather which does not cover all the land, and the clouds' thickness is constantly changing."

He said it gives them a chance to calibrate instruments, and it also gives power companies a chance to do calibrations.

Zhang said that when the energy dips, we could get our best gauge on just how much of an impact the solar network has on the country's overall energy production.

"The way the energy is all integrated, we don't have a way to determine exactly how much solar contribution there really is. When we see the loss during the eclipse, we could get a better idea of that," Zhang said. 

According to the Department of Energy, solar energy production is on a steep incline. Since 2008, U.S. installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW today. This is enough capacity to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes.

NREL is also to hoping to learn more about the future roll of solar energy being stored in giant batteries, and how that battery storage, and use, could be improved in the future.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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