Natural Gas Fills the Gap for Solar Power Generation During Eclipse

Wed, April 17, 2024

On April 8, millions of people gathered across Texas to watch a total solar eclipse occur for the first time since 1878. Few of them, if any, were thinking about how the phenomenon they were about to witness would impact the Texas power grid.

With sun coverage reaching 80 to 100 percent across the state, the solar power generation that is often the second-leading energy source on the ERCOT grid fell by a staggering 94.1%. The grid never faltered, however, thanks to a surge in natural gas.

Source: ERCOT Fuel Mix

According to the ERCOT five-minute generation data, solar generation peaked at 13.76 GW at 12:15 p.m., fell to 0.8 GW at 1:30 p.m., and didn’t return to its peak until 2:40 p.m.

Over the same period, natural gas jumped from 18.65 GW of production at 12:00 p.m. to 27.55 GW at 1:30 p.m., covering nearly 70% of the generation lost from the solar decline.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

By filling the gap for power generation, natural gas proves once again its importance to our nation’s energy supply mix. The events surrounding the eclipse are another testament to the reliability that natural gas provides and the importance of energy security.

Given its abundance and affordability, natural gas will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in powering both Texas and the United States throughout the 21st century. Additionally, continued innovation and improvements to domestic operations has been the driving force to reduce emissions across the energy supply chain.

Texas producers are proud to support this effort, providing energy security for local communities and beyond. Although the next solar eclipse won’t occur until 2045, we can agree with certainty that natural gas will meet the challenge of delivering energy needs during the world’s next solar phenomenon.