S&P Global Commodity Insights Weekly ET News Highlights – Apr 8, 2024

US Solar eclipse expected to significantly reduce solar power output in several markets

Energy transition highlights: Our editors and analysts bring together everything you need to know about the industry this week, from renewables to storage to carbon prices.

A total solar eclipse will cross North America on April 8, passing over Mexico, the US and Canada, causing significant reductions in solar power plant output with the greatest impacts occurring in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and PJM Interconnection power markets.

An annular eclipse obscures most of the sun except for a halo of sunlight around the edge of the moon’s dark disc, while during a total eclipse the entirety of the sun will be blocked by the moon.

In Dallas, the partial eclipse will begin at 12:23 pm CT, with maximum totality occurring at 1:42 pm and the partial eclipse will end at 3:02 pm, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Maximum totality will reach Cleveland at 3:15 pm ET, Buffalo at 3:20 pm, and Caribou, Maine at 3:33 pm.

Solar power production in ERCOT is expected to drop to 3 GW generated during the hour of totality versus the roughly 18 GW that is usually generated during that same time of day on a clear sky day in April, according to Maxar Technologies, an advanced forecasting company that provides data to US power grid operators.

As the moon’s shadow moves north through the PJM footprint, solar power output is expected to drop to around 1.6 GW during the hour of totality compared with roughly 7GW on a clear sky day in April, a Maxar spokesperson said in an email.

Even under cloudy skies, PJM is preparing for temporary losses of at least 80% to 85% of the production from the approximately 8.2 GW of grid-connected solar or metered solar resources that are part of the PJM solar generation fleet in early April, the grid operator said in a media release.