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Smoke from Canada’s Wild Fire Impacts Solar Energy in the US; New England to Drop 60% Power Generation

published: 2023-06-16 9:30

How does climate change affect power grids? The smoke from the most severe wild fire in the history of Canada has now spread to the East Coast and Midwest regions of the US, which is impacting the country’s solar power generation.

The thick smoke from the wildfire in Canada has spread to the East Coast and Midwest regions of the US, causing a severe level of air pollution that could even be detected in Europe. The smoke not only affected the level of power generation from solar panels in the US, but also the degree of revenue, as well as resulted in a need of scrubbing for these solar panels.

According to the data of US grid operator ISO New England, New England (*Note) had experienced a WoW reduction of roughly 60% at 1300 on Wednesday (US time). Bloomberg also pointed out that various states in Central and Midwest regions of the US had dropped by 25% in solar power generation last week.

Among which, New York was one of the regions that sustained the most severe air pollution, and had lost 1,466MW of solar power generation between the 6th and 7th. 1MW of power is the equivalency of electricity supply for 800-1,000 households.

Although the reduction of solar power generation, the emergence of thick smoke has also lowered the temperature of the Northeastern and Midwest regions, where the declining demand for air-conditioning helps with alleviating grid pressure. In addition, solar power also occupies 3.4% of the country’s energy structure.

With that being said, the level of heat wave and wild fire could further aggravate in the future under climate change. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) announced on Monday that Canada currently has more than 449 fire scenes, with 219 of them spiraling out of control.

Wildfire has prompted public utilities to cut off power supply to avoid further discharges in cables. For instance, the most severe wildfire in history that occurred in California during September 2020 had also led to a drop of 30% in solar power generation. California utilizes about 14% solar power for its electricity.

*Note: New English comprises of six US states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, from north to south.

 (Cover photo source: TPG images)

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