Will The Total Solar Eclipse Affect Solar Power?

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

You’re ready for the eclipse on Aug. 21, with your non-counterfeit viewing glasses and travel plans set. Yet here’s something that you may not have thought of: How will a total or even a partial solar eclipse affect homes and workplaces that use solar power?

Sure, solar power systems spend time in the dark on a daily basis, but the eclipse is a one-time event, not something that happens every day and is built into the system. Yet the National Resources Defense Council reassures everyone that we don’t have to worry about systems failing or homes going dark while the sun ducks behind the moon for a bit.

That’s because the operators of our electric grid have known about the coming eclipse for a long time, and are prepared to deploy power from other sources — renewable and non-renewable alike — to fill the shortfall.

If solar power and the solar eclipse becomes an issue anywhere, it will be North Carolina, where the eclipse will hit during the evening just as people start to come home and switch on their lights.

California, a state full of both sunshine and solar panels, could be affected quite a bit too, even if it won’t experience a total eclipse. There’s actually a statewide campaign encouraging people and businesses to turn off lights, appliances, and gadgets during the eclipse so less non-renewable power from natural gas has to be used.