What to do when the sun doesn’t shine!

Elvis Presley might’ve sung “I don’t care if the sun don’t shine” – but the rest of us sure do. After all, there “ain’t no sunshine” when a total solar eclipse is going on.

Crowd Standing Wearing Sunglasses Looking Up

Per the Great American Eclipse website, “On August 21, 2017, millions of people across the United States will see nature’s most wondrous spectacle — a total eclipse of the sun. It is a scene of unimaginable beauty; the moon completely blocks the sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky.” Check out the website for more information on understanding, preparing for and viewing this celestial event.

As awe-inspiring as it will be, the solar eclipse will have an impact on power generation. “Solar energy production will dramatically decrease as demand for lighting increases in North Carolina while the sun hides behind the moon from about 1 to 3 p.m. This is normally a peak time for solar energy production, and Sammy Roberts, Duke Energy director of system operations, estimates solar energy output will drop from about 2,500 megawatts to 200 megawatts in 1 1/2 hours.” Read more about what the solar eclipse means for solar power on Duke Energy’s Illumination website.

But having nuclear power in the mix is like having a “pocketful of sunshine.” Nuclear power plants generate clean, reliable electricity – even when the sun’s not shining. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nuclear energy is a reliable energy source, providing on-demand baseload electricity 24/7. The average nuclear energy facility is online 90 percent of the time, generating on-demand electricity around the clock. Nuclear energy is a secure electricity source that we can depend on as a reliable part of America’s electricity mix. It is not subject to changing weather or climate conditions, unpredictable fuel cost fluctuations or over-dependence on foreign suppliers.

If you look at the path of totality (i.e. 100% coverage) for the Great American Eclipse, you’ll see that several U.S. nuclear power utilities fall right in the path. And several of them are doing something to observe the occasion. Find out more at these links:

  • Duke Energy – Great American Eclipse, August 21, 2017 – The World of Energy is directly in the path of a total solar eclipse, scheduled to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2017. Visit the World of Energy throughout 2017 to pick up your solar eclipse viewing glasses and learn more about this awe-inspiring event! A series of educational programs involving the eclipse will be scheduled throughout the year – stay tuned to learn more. We invite you to view the eclipse from our front lawn on Aug. 21, 2017.
  • TVA – Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on the Tennessee Valley in order to view the August 21 total solar eclipse. Before all eyes are looking up that day, experts at TVA are looking around to ensure their public sites will be prepared to handle the expected crowds. “We’re preparing for the eclipse like any other busy holiday weekend,” says Jerry Fouse, TVA’s recreation strategy specialist. “With all the folks visiting, we want our recreation areas perfect so they keep coming back.” For the best view of the eclipse, Fouse recommends the following TVA reservoirs, along with associated campgrounds, public lands and day-use areas: Fontana, Tellico, Fort Loudon and Watts Bar. And don’t forget to record your eclipse experiences and share photos and videos using #TVAFun.
  • Ameren Missouri – Ameren Missouri engineers Ray Perez and Ken Kietzer released a weather balloon Wednesday from Ameren’s operations center in Cape Girardeau. It was a test launch in partnership with St. Louis University before the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. On that day, four instrumentation balloons will be launched to measure real-time data including temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and wind speed during the eclipse. Cool, huh?!

At AREVA NP in Lynchburg, Va., our North American Young Generation in Nuclear chapter will host a viewing event for its members on August 21 from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. While it’s only at 90% totality over Virginia, this will still be a once in a lifetime view for many members as the last total solar eclipse over the contiguous United States was in 1979! At our major locations in Charlotte, N.C., Lynchburg, Va., and Richland, Wash., we’ll also be handing out viewing glasses for any employees who care to witness this spectacular event.

Since the maximum duration of totality will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds in each viewing location, make sure you’re in place and ready because the next total eclipse over the contiguous U.S. won’t occur until 2045. And while you’re out there, be safe, “wear sunscreen,” and make sure you have viewing glasses – because it’s not good for your eyes to “look into the sun.”