Image: Portsmouth City Council.

Portsmouth City Council has recorded a record amount of solar generation during the COVID-19 lockdown thanks to the sunniest spring on record.

The council’s solar panels, which sit on schools, offices, community centres and housing sites, generated 1.3GWh of power.

May set a new record as the sunniest month on record with 266 hours of sunshine, according to the MET Office. This beat the previous record set in June 1957, when there was 265 hours of sunshine.

Between March and May there were over 600 hours of sunshine according to Portsmouth City Council, the most recorded since records began in 1929. Such a sunny period allowed solar power installations like those in Portsmouth to flourish.

The solar panels generated 14% more power in 2020 than they did during the same spring period in 2019.

Councillor Darren Sanders, cabinet member for housing, said: “This record is a real statement as to the success of our ongoing solar campaign; which helps to reduce the council's energy overheads whilst tackling climate change and providing much needed employment in the low-carbon sector.

“Our commitment to this technology remains strong, with a new multi-million pound procurement framework close to being established to help to deliver solar and storage in the coming years.”

The council launched a multi-million pound scheme to roll-out solar panels in 2016, with £10 million allocated to install PV panels over four years. This followed the successful installation of 240 solar modules on two of its housing blocks in 2014.

It has now committed to further installation of more solar in the future, thanks to the technology's success. Portsmouth City Council will promote PV deployment and commit millions of pounds to further developments using the technology.

Councillor Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for environment and climate change, added: “It's important that everyone does their bit to tackle climate change and Portsmouth City Council is no exception.

“We recognise that there is more to do, which is why this council has declared a climate emergency and helped set up the Climate Action Board to action further change. Whilst it is undoubtedly good news to see such a huge amount of solar generated; we shouldn't lose sight that the phenomena driving this, such as record low rainfall and high temperature, may themselves be down to human-made climate change. We should prioritise a green recovery as we come out of the COVID-19 crisis to ensure our planet is fit for future generations.”