New UK solar generation record set amidst air pollution collapse

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Image: Lightsource BP.

A new peak solar generation record has been set in the UK, with the industry citing a collapse in air pollution levels linked to the country’s lockdown as having played a pivotal role.

The new record was set just after midday yesterday (20 April 2020), when solar generation was recorded to have peaked at 9.68GW.

The UK has an installed solar capacity in excess of 13GW, and the University of Sheffield tracks forecasted generation across each half-hourly settlement period.

Image: The University of Sheffield/Sheffield Solar.

The new 9.68GW figure comes to exceed the previous 9.55GW record of May 2019, a time when solar was also found to have been providing nearly one-third of total electricity demand in the country.

While power demand in the UK has predictably fell as strict pandemic-related lockdown measures are followed, the considerable fall in road traffic, heavy manufacturing and other industries has resulted in air pollution levels recorded at mere fractions of what would be considered usual at this time of year.

The UK’s Solar Trade Association said that the clearer conditions, combined with cool temperatures and a lack of cloud cover, had created optimal conditions for the new record.

“Ideal weather conditions and lower levels of pollution than normal mean solar is providing record levels of cheap, clean power to the grid. At a time when most of us are working remotely, we can say that solar is truly keeping the WiFi on,” the association’s chief executive Chris Hewett said.

The global pandemic, and more specifically the national lockdowns triggered to tackle it, has given rise to renewables playing more significant roles in power systems as demand has tumbled.

Last week this publication documented reports or renewables records being broken across Germany, Spain and Australia.

PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

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