Low pollution levels help UK break record for peak solar power generation

The UK surpassed its all-time peak solar generation record earlier this week, with lower pollution levels due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown and favourable weather providing a boost to solar output.

A peak of 9.68GW was recorded by Sheffield Solar live PV generation tracker at around 12:30 on April 20th, exceeding the previous record of 9.55GW set just over a year ago in May 2019.

During the solar generation peak, solar was meeting almost 30% of UK electricity demand, according to the country’s Solar Trade Association (STA).

“Ideal weather conditions and lower levels of pollution than normal mean solar is providing record levels of cheap, clean power to the grid,” STA chief executive Chris Hewett said.

“At a time when most of us are working remotely, we can say that solar is truly keeping the WiFi on.”

The UK is currently experiencing significantly lower than usual levels of pollution as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to the STA, who expect more solar generation records will be broken as the lockdown and good weather continue.

The abundance of solar power on the grid has also contributed to the lengthiest coal-free period in 2020 so far, with 12 days passed by April 21st. Last year, the UK went 18 days without using coal in the grid during the summer.