Solar Eclipse Renders Solar Panels Next To Useless
Solar power is a crock, and it has a lot of problems. It’s expensive, unreliable, and, worst of all, it creates volatility in our power system; something that fossil fuels don’t do and could potentially be catastrophic.
Volatile power generation means that the power grid can’t fully rely on solar energy. We still need power on cloudy days and at night.
We also need power during solar eclipses.
As reported by Bloomberg, August 21st marks a day where a giant solar eclipse will cover several US states. The moon will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow that will stretch all the way across the country from Oregon to South Carolina, and will wipe out enough power to supply about 7 million homes.
This will knock out an inordinate amount of power due to the increasing proportion of solar-dependent energy generation. From Bloomberg:
Based on a Bloomberg calculation of grid forecasts, more than 9,000 megawatts of solar power may go down. That’s the equivalent of about nine nuclear reactors.
The comparison to nuclear reactors is telling, since with nuclear power this wouldn’t be a problem (besides, nuclear power has other less obvious benefits as well).
Good thing the eclipse itself will only last about 7 minutes. However, with its shadow sweeping across the country, the lost power adds up, with Texas’s power grid operator saying it could affect solar generated power from up to 90 minutes.
This is unacceptable. A first world country shouldn’t be losing power because of shadows. This isn’t the stone age.
Luckily for most of the States affected by the eclipse, coal will likely pick up solar energy’s slack on that day, proving yet again that coal (and fossil fuels in general) still has a place in the world’s energy economy, and likely will for the foreseeable future.
For green energy advocates that respond to this by saying “solar eclipses are rare,” I say: true, but clouds and night time aren’t.
The only real way to ensure solar energy is viable at all times is to expand the power grid because “it’s always sunny somewhere.” That is a terrible idea because it inserts unnecessary fragility into our energy generation. For more on why that is a bad idea, check out our comprehensive article on solar energy’s unacceptable consequences.