(Bloomberg, Laura Millan Lombrana, 2.Jul.2019) — The total eclipse that plunged South America into darkness for a short while on Tuesday also knocked out about half of Chile’s solar power.
Chilean solar farms, which can altogether produce about 2 gigawatts of electricity, saw their output slide by 1.2 gigawatts, according to the country’s energy ministry. The good news: The ministry had already anticipated a decline, and the country’s hydropower and natural gas resources were able to make up for the shortfall.
Chile is just the latest country to face a total eclipse since solar farms began proliferating around the world. The South American nation went from virtually no solar in 2011 to 2.1 gigawatts last year. A large swath of the U.S. saw a similar eclipse in 2017 that knocked out half of California’s solar power. The state’s grid also took it in stride.
How increasingly solar-heavy grids will handle future eclipses remains to be seen. About 8% of Chile’s power now comes from solar, and the country wants 70% of its electricity to come from solar and wind by 2050.