Australia's electricity grid prepares for solar eclipse

2 min

AEMO is preparing for a manageable reduction of solar generation due to tomorrow’s solar eclipse that will cast a shadow across parts of Australia, with a short period of complete darkness expected in central and northern Western Australia.

While confident that the solar eclipse won’t impact the ability to meet consumers’ electricity demand, the moon’s transit across the sun will diminish solar irradiance at various levels and times over an approximate three-hour period, requiring planning to manage the reduced solar output.

AEMO Executive General Manager of Operations, Michael Gatt said that the eclipse will have greater impact to Western Australia’s power system (Wholesale Electricity Market) than the interconnected central and eastern network (National Electricity Market).

“As the power system operator in all regions aside from the Northern Territory, AEMO continues to invest in the forecasting capability to manage our growing reliance on variable renewable energy,” Mr Gatt said.

“On Thursday, we expect the eclipse to reduce solar generation in Western Australia’s power system first, around 10am (AWST), and then move east into the larger National Electricity Market.

“Our teams have run simulations and modelled the likely impact of the solar eclipse on the millions of rooftop solar PV systems and electricity demand, confirming there’s no elevated risk to electricity supply or power system security,” he said.

Subject to additional weather conditions, AEMO forecasts that reduced rooftop solar PV output in Western Australia during the eclipse could see a total demand increase ranging from 700 megawatts (MW) to 1,000 MW from 10am to 1pm.

During this event, the greater Perth area will witness a range of 60 to 80 per cent of this total solar eclipse, compared to Exmouth, outside of the South West Interconnected System, which will experience total darkness for around a minute at 11:27am (AWST).

Meanwhile, South Australia and the eastern states will see a 5 to 20 per cent reduction in solar irradiance from 12:35pm to 3:40pm (AEST) during the solar eclipse.

“AEMO has taken a number of actions with industry to prepare for the eclipse, which is expected to impact solar generation and electricity demand similar to volatile and dense cloud movement,” Mr Gatt said.

“We’ve been engaging with key stakeholders within the industry to coordinate preparation activities and ensure all parties are aligned.

“This includes increased operational checks, including reviewing generator and network outages, review of intermittent non-scheduled generation forecasts and reviewing demand forecasts based on latest available information,” he said.


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