The next total solar eclipse, scheduled for March 20, 2015, would have serious consequences for the European continent, by interrupting the generation of electricity from photovoltaic sources.
“The risk of an incident occurring cannot be completely ruled out,” said the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). As expected, the eclipse will begin at 8:40 a.m. and end at 12:50 p.m. Central European Time. The experts pointed out that it will be “an unprecedented test for Europe’s electrical system (…) the entire area is directly or indirectly concerned.”
Germany is the country most at risk of suffering the consequences, with a quarter of its electricity production depending on renewable energy generators based on photovoltaic cells.
“The eclipse will be a ‘stress test’ for the flexibility of the European energy system […] it will have to adapt to very abrupt change,” said Patrick Graichen, CEO of Agora Energiewende. “In 30 minutes, solar energy production could decrease from 17.5 to 6.2 gigawatts, and then go up to 24.6 gigawatts […] it’s definitely going to be a big challenge for control rooms,” said Claire Camus, spokesperson for the ENTSO-E.
The last record of a similar situation in Europe dates back to 1999, long before the Fukushima disaster prompted the massive development of solar panels, among other alternative sources of renewable energy. Since then, the situation has changed a lot: Europe’s dependence on solar energy has gone from 0.1 percent in 2002 to 20.5 percent today.