Will America’s Epic Eclipse Impact Our Electric Grid?

For about three hours on August 21st, power grid operators across the United States will be confronted with a sudden drop in available electricity, owing to the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in nearly a century. Power disruptions are not expected, but only because measures are being taken to make up for the sudden energy shortfall. Here’s the amount of solar power the US is expecting to lose and what grid operators are going to do about it.

The last time Americans saw an eclipse like this was in 1918, and much has changed since then—especially how we get our energy. We’re in the midst of a green energy revolution, where more traditional sources like coal, gas, hydro, and nuclear are slowly being replaced by wind, solar, and geothermal. Solar in particular has taken off in the US, with total solar capacity increasing 8,500 fold in the past 17 years. Today, approximately 1.2.6% of all energy consumed in the US comes from solar, the primary drivers being the states of California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and New Jersey.

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