The March 20th solar eclipse (only a partial eclipse in Europe) will cost Belgium up to 1,300MW in solar energy, according to Elia, Belgium’s electricity transmission system operator. “This is not a particularly big deal, but we are nevertheless preparing for it,” explained their spokesperson, Barbara Verhaegen, on Tuesday. A research paper published by Entso-e (European network of transmission system operators for electricity) on Monday reveals that “on March 20th, under clear skies, approximately 35,000MW of solar energy (equivalent to 80 average-size production units) will gradually leave the European electricity network before reappearing again later.”
“An incident is not totally impossible,” according to the authors of the study, in particular in countries like Germany and italy which have a large number of solar units.
In Belgium, the situation is less worrying and no major problems are expected. “Worst case scenario, we will lose 1,300MW,” pointed out Barbara Verhaegen. “We have already faced similar situations, for example when the Tihange reactor was shut down in April.”
If case it’s necessary, other power plants including the Coo hydroelectric power plant can be activated. Elia is liaising with the other European operators to harmonise their reactions.
In Brussels the solar eclipse will start on March 20th at 9:27am and end at 11:45am. The moon will darken the skies by a maximum of 80% when it blocks the sun.