On Monday 13th May, the bright and clear conditions helped the UK solar industry break its generation record, hitting 9.47GW at noon. This surpassed the previous record set in May 2017 of 9.38GW. Then, just 24 hours later, the record was broken again, with solar power hitting 9.55GW on Tuesday.
Fintan Slye, Director of the National Grid, said: “As more and more renewables come onto our system, coal-free runs and solar records like this are going to be a regular occurrence. We believe that by 2025 we will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon.”
This comes just a week after the UK broke another record. The country went for 193 hours and 25 minutes without using coal power to generate electricity, for the first time since 1882 (read the blog post to find out more). On Tuesday, the renewable power source supplied more than a quarter of the UK’s energy needs for the day, with coal power again being made redundant.
The generation mix for Tuesday’s solar power record-breaking run:
Whilst the milestone has been welcomed, the UK solar sector has stalled in recent years due to a number of challenging policy and regulatory issues, including proposed changes to the way reduced-rate VAT is applied to solar as an energy-saving technology and unfair business rates for organisations that install solar on their buildings. This calls on the government to address them, which industry figures argue is holding back wider deployment of the technology.
Solar power now provides around 4% of electricity for the UK and is the country’s most popular source of energy. In a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), solar was identified as the technology with the single biggest technical potential to tackle climate change. So record-breaking runs like these are a step in the right direction, especially when climate change is hot on everyone’s agenda.