European energy grid to take a hit during solar eclipse

19 Mar 2015

While much of Europe looks to the skies to witness the partial solar eclipse on 20 March, the continent’s power grid is expected to take a brief hit to the equivalent of nearly 10 coal power plants.

Depending on how clear the skies are above much of continental Europe, a team of technicians from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (Entso-E) have been busy over the last year in preparation for this day which is expected to see a drop in almost 35,000MW of energy.

However, according to The Guardian, the dip in solar energy might not be as pronounced as would be seen during a peak summer sunshine as the weather forecast for tomorrow for much of the continent is overcast but the two-hour period should go by without much of a hitch.

Of course, given Ireland’s rather low standing when it comes to solar power, the knock on effect of the eclipse will be almost non-existent, but in European countries better suited to solar power, it is more of a concern.

Also offering assurance for the dip in solar energy production was the European Photovoltaic Industry Association who, through a spokesperson, stated that predicted dips in energy production are a lot easier to handle than unforeseen ones.

“In comparison a failure of a large power plant would be more difficult to address, as typically such events occur without warning,” said the spokesperson. “Everyday demand is more volatile than the solar eclipse and grid operators are able to keep the system running and have done so for almost a century. If the weather is a bit cloudy, the eclipse will go unnoticed.”

Solar panels image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic