UK Solar Power Reaches All-Time Generation Peak (Again)

Just a day after breaking its all-time generation record, solar power in the UK again set a new peak generation benchmark.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) reports solar hit a generation peak of 9.47GW at around midday on May 13 (local time). This was then eclipsed on May 14 with a peak of 9.55GW at around 12.30pm. The previous record was 9.38GW, set in May 2017.

The new records resulted from particularly clear, bright and cool conditions1.

“It is impossible to argue with the numbers. The bright clear skies combined with mild temperatures means solar has consistently met big portions of electricity demand throughout recent days,” said STA Director of Advocacy and New Markets Léonie Greene.

The STA says solar energy now provides approximately 4% of UK electricity.

Solar Energy Popular, But Facing Challenges

As in Australia, solar power and renewables generally are very popular in the UK. The latest BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker indicated support for the use of renewable energy in the UK increased from 77% in December 2018 to 84% in March 2019, just one percentage point under the all-time peak of 85% in March last year. Of the renewable energy technologies, solar led the pack with 89% indicating support, followed by off-shore wind at 83%.

With regard to nuclear power, 35% of the public indicated support; a slight decrease from 38% in March 2018. As for hydraulic fracturing for shale gas (fracking), the proportion opposed increased from 35% in December 2018 to 40% in March 2019 – the highest level of opposition since related questions were first asked in December 2013.

While solar energy may have a huge amount of public support, the nation’s solar industry and PV owners are facing a number challenges says the STA; including a lack of clear and fair payment for small-scale system electricity exports to the grid.

Recent Record Coal-Free Run

The new solar peak generation record comes less than a week after Britain experienced its first 100 hours of coal-free electricity use; which then became a more than a week coal-free. According to UK_Coal, the run ended at 8 days, 1 hour and 25 minutes; the longest period without coal power for Great Britain since 1882. During this run, solar energy contributed 5% of generation and wind power, 12%. The biggest contributor was gas (45%), followed by nuclear energy at 21%.

Footnotes

  1. Heat is the enemy of solar PV. The output of solar panels starts to drop off when the temperature of a panel exceeds 25°C.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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