California’s solar energy gains go up in wildfire smoke

Smoke from Southern California wildfires drifts through the LA Basin, obscuring downtown skyscrapers in a view from a closed Griffith Observatory on September 17th, 2020. | Photo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Smoke from California’s unprecedented wildfires was so bad that it cut a significant chunk of solar power production in the state. Solar power generation dropped off by nearly a third in early September as wildfires darkened the skies with smoke, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Those fires create thick smoke, laden with particles that block sunlight both when they’re in the air and when they settle onto solar panels. In the first two weeks of September, soot and smoke caused solar-powered electricity generation to fall 30 percent compared to the July average, according to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which oversees nearly…

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