Solar eclipse: Biggest since 1999 could plunge Britain into darkness in March

Solar energy accounted for barely any renewable energy in 1999, but now makes up a huge portion of it

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The Independent Online

A solar eclipse in March could plunge the country into darkness as the sky is covered and energy supplies are put at risk.

The eclipse will block out nearly 90 per cent of the sunlight in parts of Europe – with some of Scotland seeing 94 per cent coverage. And the electricity supplies might not be able to take up the strain, since so much of Europe’s power supply now relies on solar energy.

The eclipse will be the most extreme since the famous one in 1999. But then, only 0.1 per cent of the renewable energy supply came from solar – now, 10.5 per cent of the green energy in Europe comes from such sources.

“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,” said the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, a group that ensures energy is distributed properly across Europe.

The blackout will come in the morning of March 20, just as Europe heads into work, putting electricity providers under even more pressure.

It will begin in the UK at 8.45am. The maximum eclipse, when the moon is nearest the middle of the sun, will be at 9.31am. The event will end at 10.41am.

The last major solar eclipse happened in August 1999. That was the first total eclipse since 1990 and the first seen in the UK since 1927.