The loss of solar power generation during Friday’s eclipse will be an unprecedented test for the European grid but is very unlikely to cause problems for electricity users, according to electricity providers in the UK and Europe.
If the weather is clear on Friday morning the European grid will suddenly lose the equivalent generation of eight to ten very large coal power plants as the moon passes between solar panels and the sun. The loss of generation will occur over a much shorter period than it takes to get dark at night. The eclipse will cover about 85% of the sun from the centre of the viewing zone.
The event presents a serious challenge to a grid designed originally to carry consistent power supplied by large power stations. Technicians from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (Entso-E) have been working for more than a year on how to cope with the potential loss of 35,000MW of generating capacity.
Forecasters are predicting largely cloudy weather for much of Europe, meaning the dip in power will be less pronounced than it would be in sunshine. But a spokeswoman for Entso-E said engineers were “very confident” the system would cope, even if conditions are sunny.
“The risk is serious but we are taking all measures to mitigate them. It is very unlikely there will be any incidents,” she said.