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Natural Gas To Take Over For Solar Capacity During Eclipse

Dark Solar

Natural gas turbines will replace solar power capacity during the August 21st solar eclipse, highlighting the carbon-light fossil fuel’s emerging role as a gateway “green” energy in the coming decades, according to a report by Fortune.

The total eclipse in late August is the first to be seen in the contiguous United States since 1979, and will provide a short window for natural gas use to rise at rates usually reserved for wind and solar energy.

Bloomberg’s calculation of the impact of the solar eclipse estimates that 9,000 MW of power—equivalent to the output of nine nuclear reactors—could go down during the timespan of the celestial event. California plans to include utilization of both hydropower and natural gas to make up for the lost capacity. Duke Energy told Fortune it would tap into gas generators in North Carolina to make up for a 92 percent drop in solar capacity that will last around 90 minutes.

For solar companies, the eclipse has been on their radar for months.

“Given that the timing and path of the eclipse are well understood and well reflected in solar generation forecasts by CAISO and other grid operators, generation dispatch or curtailment would be managed as a part of routine operations,” Steve Krum, of First Solar Inc., the largest operator of solar plants in the U.S., said.

Related: A Red Flag For Oil? China’s Crude Imports Drop To 7-Month Low

Natural gas production has been on the rise in the U.S. as American producers begin to market their fossil fuels worldwide. In three of the first five months of 2017, the United States exported more natural gas than it imported, reversing a trend of net-imports that’s endured for nearly sixty years.

Rising exports, fueled by the shale boom which has seen a marked increase in U.S. natural gas production, have been facilitated by new infrastructure and rising demand outside the U.S., most notably in Mexico and eastern Canada.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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