UK solar generation record topples amidst bright skies

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Credit: Lightsource BP

Yet another power generation record fell in the UK this week, as the country’s solar fleet set a new generation record. 

The UK’s solar generation topped out at 9.47GW around midday on 13 May 2019, toppling the previous record of 9.38GW set in May 2017.

And with the bright skies set to continue, there’s every chance the record could be beaten again this week. 

National Grid’s ESO confirmed the news in a tweet, before confirming later that solar was providing more than a quarter (26%) of the country’s total power output at the time.

The solar record is the latest in a string of landmark achievements for the UK’s power system. Last week the UK celebrated going a whole week without coal generation for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, aided by substantial wind generation. 

Leonie Greene, director of advocacy and new markets at the Solar Trade Association, said that solar’s ability to meet big portions of electricity demand when skies are bright and temperatures mild was impossible to argue with. 

Greene was, however, quick to point towards barriers to deployment that could prevent solar’s contribution from growing still.

“Days like these show that the technology can deliver clean, affordable power in abundance. We now need government to provide a level playing field with other technologies and then solar can thrive without public support. Currently solar in the UK faces a plethora of barriers which have dramatically slowed deployment.

“The sobering reports out recently from the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund show fossil fuels subsidies are rising globally as renewables investment stagnates. Every country now needs to buck that trend and particularly the UK given we still lag behind the EU average for renewable energy,” she said.

As well as a potential increase to VAT attached to solar panels, energy regulator Ofgem is preparing its final plans for a set of reforms to network costs that could delay the onset of subsidy-free renewables by up to five years, new research has claimed. 

The UK’s total current solar PV generation capacity stands at just north of 13GW, but that figure has not materially increased since the closure of the Renewables Obligation in 2017.

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