U.K. Breaks Solar Power Record on Hottest Day of the Year

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  • Solar panels provide 24 percent of U.K. demand at lunchtime
  • Output exceeded 8.7 gigawatts on Friday ahead of rainy weekend

Michael Liebreich Says Price of Solar Will Keep Falling

Britain’s fleet of solar panels generated a record amount of electricity on Friday, as the nation basked in sunshine during the hottest day of the year.

U.K. solar power output rose to a record 8.75 gigawatts at 1 p.m. London time, according to data compiled by National Grid Plc and Sheffield University. That satisfied 24 percent of electricity demand and broke the previous record of 8.49 gigawatts reached earlier this month.

The Met Office expects temperatures may soar as high as 29.5 degrees Celsius (85.1 degrees Fahrenheit), making Friday the hottest day of the year and surpassing yesterday’s record of 28 degrees Celsius, according to a spokesman for the organization.

“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system and as this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important,” said Duncan Burt, head of control room operations for National Grid, in an emailed statement.

The data at 1 p.m. was modeled from almost 600 sites around the country. Saturday isn’t going to be as sunny as Friday with scattered thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow tonight and tomorrow, according to the Met Office.

Friday’s solar record is the latest to highlight the U.K.’s shift from polluting power plants to cleaner sources. In April, the U.K. had its first full day without burning coal for electricity since the Industrial Revolution more than a century ago.

The U.K. has 12.1 gigawatts of solar installed, which is enough for 3.8 million homes, according to the Solar Trade Association. 

“This is a colossal achievement in just five years and sends a very positive message to the U.K. that solar has a strong place in the decarbonization of the U.K. energy sector,” Paul Barwell, chief executive officer of the organization, said in an emailed statement.

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