Solar eclipse covers Texas | opinion

Total solar eclipse on April 8, seen from Dallas (Texas, USA).
Total solar eclipse on April 8, seen from Dallas (Texas, USA).NASA/Keegan Barber (via Reuters)

After blackouts over the past decade, Texas’ power grid has gained a reputation for being held together with duct tape. But on Monday, between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM, during the total solar eclipse, the Lone Star State had no problems. This is despite the tremendous growth of solar energy. Rapid access to battery technology helps, and less predictable natural events, such as the 2021 cold snap, will prove an even greater test. But for now, solar energy in Texas may be trumping the eclipse.

The last such event hit the United States in 2017, and since then, the country’s solar capacity has more than tripled, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and in 2023 it contributes 4% of national generation. Texas has become a laboratory for green energy. Population growth, abundant wind and sun, and the desire to build have combined to deploy astonishing numbers of commercial-scale solar power plants, now the cheapest form of new electricity generation. In 2023, the state produced 14 times more solar power than in 2017. As of Sunday afternoon, it provided about a third of Texas’ power.

Almost all of that power being out of service on Monday did not cause any problems. But the eclipse is the most anticipated event. The crucial test is when something unexpected happens.

However, the future of solar energy is promising. A large portion of today’s energy, and a much larger amount in the future, can be stored in batteries. Lithium-ion batteries allow you to take advantage of solar or wind energy that is cheap or not used at other times. Storage in Texas, for example, represents more than 3% of Sunday afternoon supply. The International Energy Agency expects battery storage in the United States to nearly double this year to about 15 gigawatts. Texas claims more than 40% of this capacity as its own.

Batteries are not yet cost effective for long periods, such as cloudy days. For now, the fossil generation acts as a buffer zone. But new forms of long-term storage, from batteries with different chemicals to geothermal energy, may provide future options. Texas is a hotbed of exploration. Even clean, renewable energy may be higher in Texas.

The authors are columnists for Reuters Breaking Views. Opinions are yours. translate from Carlos Gomez belowIt’s a responsibility Five days

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