Solar power breaks UK records thanks to sunny weather

28th May 2017 | Commercial Energy

Solar power has broken new records in the UK by providing nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity needs. This is thanks to sunny skies and relatively low summer demand.

National Grid said the thousands of photovoltaic panels on rooftops and in fields across the UK were generating 8.7GW, or 24.3% of demand at 1pm on Friday. This smashed the previous high of 8.48GW earlier this month.

Experts said the unprecedented share for solar energy means about 60% of the UK’s power was low carbon. This takes into account Britain’s wind farms and nuclear too. This figure is usually about 50%.

Solar Power

National Grid said it was excited but unfazed by the challenge of accommodating “significant volumes” of renewables. Duncan Burt, who manages day-to-day operation of the grid, said, “We have planned for these changes to the energy landscape and have the tools available to ensure we can balance supply and demand.”

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace, said, “Today’s new record is a reminder of what the UK could achieve if our government reversed its cuts to support for solar, and backed the clean technologies that could provide jobs, business opportunities and plentiful clean energy for decades to come.”

The milestone reached on Friday is the latest in a series of records for solar, which has grown from almost nothing seven years ago to 12GW of capacity today. Last summer it provided more power than the UK’s last 10 coal-fired power stations.

In April this year, Britain achieved it first-ever full working day without coal power since it started burning the fuel in 1882, thanks in part to solar energy.

Solar’s rapid growth is overturning conventions for the managers of the U’s power grid. In March, for the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon was lower than it was in the night, thanks to the cur in demand due to solar panels.

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