Solar supplied nearly 25 percent of electricity demand in the United Kingdom at 1 p.m. last Friday, according to the National Grid. The 8.75 gigawatts of solar power broke the previous record set earlier in May of 8.49 GW solar generation. The sun-drenched day across the British Isles allowed for solar to beat nuclear for the first time, coming in second only to gas.
Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, said in a statement that he was “delighted” at the weekday record set by solar, pointing out that 12.1 GW of solar has been installed in the UK, enough to power 3.8 million homes. “This is a colossal achievement in just 5 years, and sends a very positive message to the UK that solar has a strong place in the decarbonisation of the UK energy sector,” said Barwell.
— NG Control Room (@NGControlRoom) May 26, 2017
According to MyGridGB, an organization that analyzes Great Britain’s electricity mix every four hours, the record midday solar on Friday allowed for 60 percent of the electricity grid to be powered by low carbon sources of energy with nuclear (8.2 GW, 22%), wind (3.2 GW, 8.6%), biomass (2 GW, 5.4%) and other renewables included.
In April of this year the UK experienced its first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution — 24 hours of electricity generation without the need for coal-fired power plants. The milestone was particularly significant because the UK was the first country to use coal for electricity when Thomas Edison opened the Holborn Viaduct power station in London in 1882.