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Will The Solar Eclipse Cause Blackouts In The UK?

Posted by Kirsten Beckwith on 16th March 2015

solar eclipse

The Next Eclipse

On the 20th March 2015, we’re due to have a solar eclipse where the moon blocks out up to 95% of the suns rays from some parts of Europe. This natural phenomenon occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and the moon partially blocks out the suns light. Although total eclipses can be seen somewhere in the world every couple of years, it’s a rarity in Europe, this is why there is mounting excitement.

How the Solar Eclipse does affect the electrical industry?

As the UK is relying more and more on renewable energy sources, The National Grid have warned that the power generated by solar panels will suddenly drop during this eclipse which means The National Grid could loose up to half of the UKs solar power supply.

Since the last big solar eclipse in August 1999, the usage of renewable energy and solar power has increased. In the UK it still isn’t enough to mean the eclipse will have a major impact on energy supplies however, energy experts have warned of possible blackouts across Europe where solar power provides a much higher percentage of the electricity used on a daya to day basis . The European Network Transmission System Operators for Electricity said: “The risk of incident cannot be completely ruled out. Solar eclipses have happened before but with the increase of installed photovoltaic energy generation, the risk of an incident could be serious without appropriate countermeasures.” Therefore we believe this is something that The National Grid is looking into.

Experiencing an Eclipse…

The blackout will begin in the UK at 08:45 GMT lasting for around two hours. We won’t be exposed to total darkness however our solar panels will be affected it will seem as though someone has turned the suns light down with a dimmer switch. Your eyes will adjust very quickly - it can seem very eery with the world becoming darker than usual. If you’re going to view the sun during this time please make sure you use protective eyewear – because looking directly at the sun with the naked eye can damage them. Please use a telescope or special goggles.

The maximum eclipse, when the moon is nearest the middle of the sun, will occur at 09:31 GMT, ending at 10:41 GMT.

We won’t see another total solar eclipse until August 12, 2026.