In just a few hours as the sun rises in Europe, an unusual event will occur in the sky as the moon passes in front of the sun blocking out as an estimated 75% of the sunlight. In a region where solar energy provides up to 80 Gigawatts of electricity to the European grid a reduction of this magnitude may mean as much as 35 Gigawatts of less generation.
The amount of sunshine blockage will vary by country with Germany being projected to be one of the hardest hit. Germany has over a quarter of the installed solar capacity in Europe even though it is a small country. Their solar power base is capable of providing as much as 7 % of their energy needs.
This is the first real test of a high percentage solar grid ( well high compared to what we have had so far) during an a almost complete eclipse and it is happening during peak hours in most European countries. Grid technicians have been working for months to prepare first for the loss of solar energy and then the return of solar energy to the grid.
I can only assume that the experts are not expecting this event to cause any major disruptions or they would be requiring industry and large energy consumers to shutdown demand before daylight. I guess we will see if this is really the equivalent of Y2K for the solar industry.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.