If you know any astronomy fans, chances are you’ve heard about the Aug. 21 solar eclipse: an event that will trace a path of midday darkness across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Here in Texas, the sun will only be partially obscured, but how will this event affect local solar generation?
A brief shadow for solar power production
As any PEC member using net metering could tell you, clear and sunny days are the best for generating solar power. The more sunlight your panels get, the more power they produce.
“The typical solar module can produce an average of 7-10 kilowatt hours (kWh) per week, or between 1 and about 1.5 kWh per day,” PEC Energy Service Advisor Alex Ruiz said.
The solar eclipse will be visible in the Texas Hill Country starting at about 11:40 a.m. on Aug. 21, and end when the moon leaves the sun’s edge about 2:38 p.m. At the moment of maximum eclipse, about 1:09 p.m., the Hill Country will see the moon obscure about 66 percent of the sun.
If the eclipse were to remain at its maximum all month, solar power in Central Texas would suffer, limping along with 66 percent less light than usual. As it is, the eclipse lasts only three hours. At most, a solar panel would lose between .08 and .12 kWh.
“The member probably won’t notice it much,” Ruiz said, “because it’s only three hours and it’s only one day out of their 30-day billing cycle. It’ll just be like another cloudy day.”
Watching from home? Remember, keep your eyes safe! Never look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse.