Solar power generation reaches all-time peak with recent heatwave.

July 30, 2013

Like many, indeed most people across the UK, the team at TJC Global has been enjoying the delights of the recent heatwave and overall incredibly pleasant weather. But it is not just our suntans which have been benefiting from the sunshine, for the sunny weather of the past month has contributed to a significant increase in the amount of renewable solar power produced across the UK.

A combination of higher levels of sunlight during the day, coupled with an overall increase in the number of homes and buildings which have photovoltaic (PV) panels, or solar panels, installed has resulted in the UK’s solar power production levels reaching an all-time high.

Recent data released by the Solar Trade Association revealed that in the past month, during which the UK has experienced unprecedented consistent hot weather, solar power generation is at a record high. Indeed, the Solar Trade Association estimates that there are over 450,000 solar installations, the majority to be found on household roofs, which have a combined electricity capacity of 2.7GW. According to the Solar Trade Association, over 100,000 of these 450,000 photovoltaic panel installations were made within the past year alone.

On a typical day of continuous, strong sunshine in the UK, as we have experienced throughout the past weeks, solar power in the UK produces an average of 2 per cent of the UK’s total demand for electricity across a 24-hour period. However, when one takes into account that the majority of all electricity produced occurs during daytime hours only, photovoltaic (solar) power is in fact accountable for approximately 6 per cent of the electricity required to power the nation between 10am and 5pm.

And indeed, this is not an insignificant contribution to the UK’s electricity. Ray Noble, photovoltaic specialist at the Solar Trade Association, revealed some production levels from the past week: “The UK generated around 16,000MWh on Tuesday compared to 9,900MWh of wind. The total consumption of electricity on this relatively calm day was 766,987MWh.” Certainly, these figures are testimony to the UK’s phenomenal capacity for solar power generation.

Leonie Greene, communications director for the Solar Trade Association, referred to the UK’s several domestic installations, which are responsible for one third of all solar electricity generated in the UK. “But there are still very few medium-sized commercial or industrial installations,” said Ms. Greene. “If the government backed these they would see enormous payback.”

And it is not just the UK who has seen PV generation records broken this summer. In Germany, home to a huge 1.3million photovoltaic installations and the highest solar capacity in the world, over 40 per cent of the country’s daytime electricity was generated by solar power on July 7th. Talking about Germany’s phenomenal solar generation, Alan Simpson, a former MP and now independent adviser on renewable energy, praised Germany for its solar achievements: “Germany is now light years ahead of the UK and benefitting. Within a decade, many German towns and cities could be substantially ‘off-grid’ [or self sufficient] and will be taking the grid system out of the hands of the private energy companies.”

Mr. Simpson also pointed out, however, that whilst Germany’s solar prowess is indeed remarkable, it faces a problem, as whilst all but a few of the UK’s solar panels are south-facing, thus capturing peak sunshine throughout the day, German solar panels are not as uniform, resulting in massive peaks in the middle of the day. Simpson suggests that “[Germany] now need to come up with west-facing panels to spread the electricity generated across the day.”

Here’s hoping for a continuation of the sunny weather!


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