Solar eclipses effect different parts of the world, depending on where they are most visible, but yesterday’s solar eclipse had a damaging effect on the power grids in other countries. Scientists in Europe were not sure how the solar eclipse would effect their power grids, but were sure that the 2 1/2 hour event would detract from solar power, creating a large power surge. The countries who use a large percentage of solar power tried to prepare for such a surge, but power demand was sure to fall. As it did countries are now reporting that it is not as bad as they initially thought it would be.
A 75 percent drop in solar energy was expected to occur in Europe, as the solar eclipse took place on Friday. Though Scientists expected residents to take time off of their “normal schedules” to witness the solar eclipse, they were still preparing for the fact that there may not be enough energy harvested for everyone. A spokesperson of the National Grid said that they were prepared to implement tools that would balance the network, thwarting the effects of the solar eclipse. Countries were prepared to bring in coal, gas and hydropower reserves, if necessary. But even with the tools in place and the preparation of the UK, the solar eclipse did still create a power surge, leaving many residents to wonder how the grid will recover from the hit.
According to sources this kind of solar eclipse had not accord in Europe in 16 years. It was that year that a power surge was created that still holds record in Europe, and back then solar power only made up one percent. Now with a larger percent, Europe was preparing for a loss of 35 GW. This loss affected Germany, Italy, Spain, France and many others, as Europe’s electrical system, known as the European synchronous area, allows for the countries within the continent to juggle energy between each other. But grid operators expected at least a 50 percent loss in Germany and a 21 percent loss in Italy. This was especially as sources report that Germany did not take any measures to protect the grids from the solar eclipse. (Statistics show Germany went from 21.7 GW to a low 6.2 GW, though it did come back of to 15 GW after the event.)
The grid did in fact create a power surge in European countries, but statements made show that the power surge and loss of solar power is not as bad as expected. But the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) states that people can still help the grids recover after the solar eclipse, by taking their own personal action. In 1999, during the last solar eclipse, visible in Europe, people did stop to enjoy the eclipse, creating less of an energy surge. Power surges have also happened, reducing energy during major events, like the world cup semi-final, the royal wedding, etc. With studies on energy and the common sense of how energy works, it is clear to the UK that if people avoid using much electricity now, after the eclipse, then the grids can effectively recover.
Sources state that this event will help researchers better prepare in the future, especially as they increase the use of solar power. The solar eclipse on March 20, was an effective test that provided data for grid workers, helping them to determine how to best handle situations like that. While some countries completely switched off the PV (photovoltaic) grids, taking no risk with solar power, Europe felt that they could manage the loss, and they did just that. But a large power surge was still created by the solar eclipse, even after scientists were not sure how it would effect solar power, but they handled the situation effectively and now it could be years before Europe has to deal with another complete eclipse that threatens their use of solar power.
By Crystal Boulware
Laura Canovaro – Creativecommons Flickr License