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Solar generation record falls as National Grid expects further change

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Image: Getty.

A new solar generation record was set earlier this week, the latest in a string of renewables milestones to fall this spring.

Data compiled by Sheffield Solar’s PV Live tool and verified by National Grid show that the country’s ~13GW of solar capacity produced 9.42GW of power from 11:30 AM on Monday 14 May, slightly higher than the previous peak generation of 9.37GW.

That record was set almost a year ago to the date. On 26 May 2017 solar generation was helped by the so-called ‘Spanish Plume’ weather event that left the UK enjoying almost entirely clear skies.

However Monday’s record-setting periods also saw solar provide 25% of the country’s entire demand, the second largest power source at that time of day. Combined with wind (10%) and nuclear (18%), low-carbon sources made up more than half of the UK’s entire energy demand around midday.

And the record caps off what has been a highly productive period for the UK’s renewables fleet. Solar PV has regularly contributed upwards of 25% of the UK’s power supply around the midday peak in recent weeks, and the early May bank holiday spell saw PV become the UK’s dominant power source for a total of six full hours over the weekend.

National Grid has meanwhile said that the trend of tumbling renewables records could yet stretch further.

In a statement issued to Current Fintan Slye, director for the UK system operator at National Grid, said: “We have seen several renewable generation records tumble over the past 12 months and this exciting trend looks set to continue. We are experiencing a period of great change in the energy industry and as the UK’s system operator, we’re proud to play our part.”

National Grid released its Summer Outlook in early April, within which it said inflexible generators – including the likes of nuclear, CHP and some wind and hydro facilities – faced being curtailed to make way for solar generation.

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