The impact of Friday’s solar eclipse on the UK grid is likely to be negligible despite concerns on the continent.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), which National Grid is a member of, called the event “an unprecedented challenge”.

“Solar eclipses have happened before but with the increase of installed photovoltaic energy generation, the risk of an incident could be serious without appropriate countermeasures,” it said in a statement.

But National Grid’s forecasting manager, Jeremy Caplin said there was little cause for concern in the UK.

“We are in a slightly different position to some of our counterparts in Europe owing to our particular generation mix; however, are working with them to plan for this event. There is currently around 4500MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation connected in the UK, although we are not expecting much over 3000MW of generation even on a sunny day in March,” he said.

“We’ve been planning for this event for quite some time at National Grid and our forecast shows that we could see a drop of up to 1700MW of PV generation during the eclipse. The loss of this solar generation will be largely offset by the demand suppression of people watching the eclipse. In the event of bad weather, fewer people will watch the event, and there will be less PV generation to be lost,” explained Caplin.

In November, the company told Solar Power Portal’s sister site Next Energy News that the surge after the eclipse could be the greater problem.

Impact of the 1999 eclipse on the UK's grid. Source National Grid

Impact of the 1999 eclipse on the UK's grid. Source National Grid.

“On 11 August 1999, however, there was a solar eclipse with a totality that clipped Cornwall and Devon. Obscuration in London would have been around 95 – 98%,” said Gillian West, a spokeswoman for the company. “On this occasion, there was one of the largest demand suppressions ever on the E&W system, with a drop of 2200MW, and a pick up at the end of 3000MW,” said West.

The 3000MW pick up is still the largest surge in the UK to this day, larger than the TV-related pickups created by Prince William's wedding and the England football team's numerous ignominious World Cup exits.

Clean energy utility Good Energy was also relaxed about the impact of the eclipse.

“Grid companies are used to dealing with sudden swings in power demand and supply, especially when they are anticipated. Although the eclipse will last an hour and a half in total it will move across Europe so each single solar site will be impacted only several minutes, as the eclipse reaches them. The likelihood of power failures are slim,” a spokesman for the company said.