Solar power took a dip in the United States when the total eclipse swept across the country Monday (Aug. 21), as a new video shows.
As the solar eclipse moved from coast to coast, solar-energy generation dropped. The map shows the hottest zones — in dark orange — fading to nothingness as the moon covers the sun overhead, and then slowly coming back as the eclipse concludes.
The video was released by SolarEdge, a company that sells equipment that's designed to work with solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. It has 300,000 systems across the country.
"The solar eclipse reminded us all today of the importance of sunlight in our lives," SolarEdge said in a statement. "With solar energy now having greater significance for national power generation, we were able to track the path of the eclipse by monitoring energy production from PV systems."
While SolarEdge did not reveal exactly how much solar power was lost from its systems during the event, Mark Chediak, Naureen Malik and Brian Eckhouse reported at Bloomberg that across the country, about 12,000 megawatts of electricity come from solar power. The eclipse was billed as a major test of solar-power generation in the United States — a test that the country passed, they wrote.
In solar-heavy California, for example, the state reportedly used gas plants and hydropower generators, because these are systems that can be brought online quickly in the case of an outage. The state also urged users to conserve energy during the eclipse, to ease the burden on the grid.
The next major test of the grid will come in 2024, when a total solar eclipse crosses the United States through a swath that includes the population-heavy Eastern Seaboard. The affected states will include Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace