Solar eclipse could strain Texas power grid, but weather could be in our favor, experts say

Elyse Smith Image
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Cooler weather could prevent blackouts in Texas during solar eclipse
The solar eclipse expected on Oct. 14, 2023, could challenge Texas' power grid, but the state's cooler weather could work in favor of energy sources.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- ERCOT will be closely monitoring the state's power grid during Saturday's solar eclipse as the event will pose a brand new test for the grid. It's been over 100 years since Texas was within the path of the totality of a solar eclipse.

So, should Texans be concerned about potential blackouts on Saturday from a lack of solar power?

ABC13 Meteorologist Elyse Smith spoke to Dr. Xingpeng Li, an Assistant Professor of Engineering at the University of Houston.

He's an expert in renewable energy sources and how they impact the statewide power grid. He's not concerned about the integrity of the grid on Saturday, mainly because of the weather.

"For this upcoming solar eclipse, I'm not very worried about it because it's happening in October, and it coincides with cooler weather in Texas," Li said. "However, if it occurred on a scorching summer day when the Texas grid relies heavily on solar power, then it could lead to a power outage due to insufficient generation capacity."

RELATED: Everything Houstonians need to know to prepare for upcoming solar eclipse set to impact power grid

While that's another story for another day, Li noted one solution would be to develop ways to store solar energy as a backup for peak demand days, like those 100-degree days over the summer.

Speaking of weather, it turns out that both a solar eclipse and a very cloudy day could lead to a decrease in electricity produced by solar power, but, that's why there are other ways to generate electricity.

Li pointed out that if there is a significant reduction in electricity generated by solar power, other energy sources like wind, natural gas, and hydroelectric sources will fill the gap.

The irony is, if it were to be cloudy the day of a solar eclipse, there'd be a reduction in solar power anyway. For the latest forecast for Saturday's eclipse, click here.

According to NASA, the annular solar eclipse begins in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. PDT and ends in Texas at 12:03 p.m. CDT.

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