Solar Eclipse is the ‘Forecastable Dress Rehearsal’ Utilities Have Been Waiting For
Today’s solar eclipse over much of the continental United States will give the country’s power sector a “forecastable dress rehearsal” for a future grid that relies far more heavily on renewable electricity, Bloomberg News reported in the days leading up to the event.
Bloomberg cited that quote from Accenture Plc Managing Director David Shepheard, who added that the eclipse will be the perfect test “for operating the grid when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”
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“It’s not often that power grid operators, utilities, and electricity generators get such precise and advance notice about more than 12,000 MW of solar power supplies set to suddenly drop off their systems,” the news agency notes. “And some are looking forward to it—as a means of testing plants, software, and markets refined in recent years in anticipation of the day when renewable energy becomes the world’s dominant source of power.”
Different officials contacted by Bloomberg are treating the eclipse as an opportunity to validate power forecasting models, assess the performance of smart meters and inverters, refine their processes for balancing supply swings through power trading, and accommodate fluctuations in power system voltage without letting local power lines or larger transmission systems go offline.
“The event is going to give grid operators a chance to fine-tune their toolkit for dealing with big wind and solar fluctuations,” Bloomberg notes, citing Charlie Gay of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. Shepheard said the eclipse might point toward a big role for energy storage batteries in delivering grid flexibility.