On a usual day, when the sun is at its zenith, peak solar power produced in California is close to 10,000 Megawatts. The power generated through solar panels starts in the morning and it smoothly grows till it reaches its peak. However, this was disrupted on August 21 when the USA saw a total solar eclipse passing over it.
The power output dropped by 3,400 megawatts during the solar eclipse. The data provided by California Independent System Operator (CAISO), a non-profit organisation which manages 80 percent of the electricity supplies in the state shows that the slide in the output started slightly after 9 o’clock in the morning and kept dropping until past ten.
Renewable energy output on August 21, California. The yellow curve above corresponds to solar power output throughout the day. Credit: CAISO
The drop was more than CAISO had projected. The output was completely restored by 12 o’clock and the panels started generating power as usual.
In California, the solar eclipse started at 0901 hours in the morning, achieving the totality at around 1015 hours. The eclipse ended by 1138 hours.
According to a legislation enacted in 2002, electric utilities in California are required to derive one-third of their total sales from renewable energy resources by 2020 and half of the sales by 2030. Most of the electric suppliers in the state are right on the track in achieving the target with few already crossed it well ahead of the deadline.
California, which is home to few of the largest solar facilities in the world, in 2016, produced 28 percent of their total energy output from renewable resources in the state.