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Dublin: 17°C Sunday 22 May 2022

Could the solar eclipse cause blackouts in Ireland?

Solar power has become a much more common way of generating power than after the last eclipse.

IRELAND’S POWER SUPPLY will remain relatively unscatched by tomorrow’s solar eclipse, while grids will be pushed to their limits in other parts of Europe due to the use of solar power.

The event has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ test for Europe’s electricity grid, with power providers working for several months to find the best way of maintaining normal service.

According to watchdog for Europe’s electricity transmission systems, as much as 35,000 MW of solar energy will gradually fade from Europe’s electrical system during the eclipse, “before being gradually re-injected: all in the space of two hours while Europeans and their offices begin a normal working week day”.

This is the equivalent of almost a dozen standard coal power plants.

EirGrid isn’t expecting the event to have any significant impact on the Irish transmission system, however.

A spokesperson for the operator said “there is very little solar energy generation in Ireland and there is none connected to the transmission system”.

When asked on whether an increased demand for other forms of power in the United Kingdom would result in less electricity being available from the two interconnectors, they said:

“We do not expect the eclipse to have any impact on the supply of electricity across the interconnectors.”

They added noted that during the last eclipse in 1999, there was a 3.4% drop in electricity demand.

“This was caused by people leaving their homes, schools and workplaces to go outside and watch the eclipse,” they added.

Once it was over, electricity demand quickly went back to normal. We do not anticipate any problems from a similar shift in demand on this occasion.

Although some cloud cover is expected to dull the view of this spectacular event in some northern parts of the country, the event will be watched by thousands all over Ireland.

However, that poses a risk to your eyes.

In Trinity College Dublin, between 8:30 and 10:30 am this Friday, members of the public will be able to safely view the event, where high-tech telescopes and specially designed eclipse shades will allow the transit to be watched safely.

Read: The sun is set to save Dublin €21,000 a year >

More: These five graphs dig into the figures behind wind energy in Ireland >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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