One of the likely un-envisaged consequences of the growing deployment of solar energy would be the impacts that arise during a solar eclipse, with the rather rapid loss and recovery of generation capacity as the moon transits the sun.
With the first major eclipse taking place over Europe since the deployment of a large percentage of solar on March 20, the European transmission system operators through ENTSO-E undertook a detailed planning for the event – and their efforts were happily wholly successful. [Europe’s Solar Eclipse – Outcomes On The Transmission Grid] Keys to this success were prior modelling of the eclipse and a high degree of communication and collaboration between TSOs during the event. [Engerati-Solar Eclipse Challenges With High Levels of PV] ENTSO-E has undoubtedly gathered vital experience that would be of interest for future eclipses over large land masses with multiple operators, such as North America.
The experience also highlights the importance of forecasting, not only for solar but also for wind and other renewables. With traditional forecasting from national meteorological offices notoriously unreliable, it is interesting to see the effort being expended by the energy industry to improve forecasting. As an example of the critical need for such forecasting, the proposed Creyke Beck offshore wind farm, which is set to be the world’s largest, may include up to 10 offshore meteorological monitoring stations. [Offshore Windfarms Set To Reach New Levels]
The improvement of forecasting in the energy sector is being supported in both the USA and Europe, with both utilities and vendors actively participating. With the potential more widespread application of this growing body of data, it is crucial that the findings be made available beyond the energy sector and may ultimately contribute to improved national and global forecasting. Now that would be a feather in the cap of our industry.
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