Germany, UK produce record solar power amid smog-free skies

Germany’s photovoltaic plants produced 32.227 GW on Monday (40% of the country’s power), which beat the country’s previous record on March 23. The UK broke its solar record on Monday at 9.68 GW. The previous record was 9.55 GW in May 2019.

The coronavirus lockdown has reduced pollution. Pollution can block sunshine and coat PV panels in dirt, making them less effective. Cleaner air has in turn has let more sunshine through, and thus generated more solar power in European countries.

Solar records are common in the spring due to sunny conditions and cool temperatures (solar panels don’t perform as well in the heat), but this year, output is more significant due to clearer skies.

The German government forecasts that green energy will make up about 80% of the electricity mix by 2038, compared with just over 40% in 2019.

However, Germany still lags behind its European neighbors on ditching coal; Austria and Sweden just shut its last coal plants in the last week, for example. Germany intends to exit coal by 2038, but may do so sooner due to falling renewables prices.

Chris Hewett, chief executive of the UK’s Solar Trade Association (STA), said:

Ideal weather conditions and lower levels of pollution than normal mean solar is providing record levels of cheap, clean power to the grid. At a time when most of us are working remotely, we can say that solar is truly keeping the Wi-Fi on.

The UK has now gone nearly two weeks without using any coal on its grid, said the STA.

Electrek’s Take

The pandemic may have slowed production of solar panels and hit the industry’s jobs (very few sectors have been spared), but the PV panels already in place are delivering magnificently in Europe and other places.

Surely this is evidence enough of the importance of the need to boost green energy going forward, as coal dies and oil crashes?

Photo: Andreas Gücklhorn/Unsplash

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.