The Energy 202: Eclipse tests growing power of renewable energy

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

On Monday, Mother Nature, seemingly unprompted, provided a test of one of the more controversial ideas tossed around by the energy and environmental staff installed by President Trump.

Here’s their question: Do recent changes to way power is generated in the United States — namely, more solar and wind, less coal and nuclear — mean the nation’s grid operators will not have enough power plants to meet electricity needs when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining?

Right now, the Energy Department is finalizing an overdue study asking whether the national electric grid can handle the lost of so-called “baseload” power plantas older coal and nuclear facilities are priced out of the electricity market by cheaper renewables.

“As the utility sector prepares for the short-term impact of a solar eclipse, a much larger problem looms for solar advocates — the diminishing value of intermittent solar as a reliable source of electricity,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and a member of Trump’s transition team for energy.

The grid reliability study has been delayed since June, though Shaylyn Hynes, a press officer at the Energy Department, told me it will be published “soon.”

But the concern over grid reliability got a real-world test on Monday when the moon cast its shadow across the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina, dampening solar energy generation in the top two states for solar capacity — California and North Carolina.

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