The Total Solar Eclipse May Do More Than Just Darken Europe's Skies

A total solar eclipse--the largest in Europe since 1999--will darken skies over the parts of the landmass at 9:45 a.m. UT (5:45 a.m. Eastern Time) on Friday, March 20.

The eclipse is estimated to block an enormous 98% of the sun's light in northern Scotland, The Telegraph stated. As for London, it's estimated to see an 85% decrease in sunlight.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, forming a shadow on Earth as it blocks sunlight. As this eclipse will block so much sunlight, Britain's solar power industry is concerned that it could cause power disruptions.

Transmission system operators have consumed months preparing for the eclipse, according to the Brussels, Belgium-based European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity. Plans call for control rooms through the continent to coordinate a reaction in case of any problems.

This animated GIF, published by NASA, shows where the shadow will be produced by the March 20 total solar eclipse.

"Within 30 minutes the solar power generation would cut from 17.5GW to 6.2GW and then rise again up to 24.6GW. This means that within 30 minutes the system will have to adjust to a load change of -10GW to +15GW," Patrick Graichen, executive director of the Berlin-based renewable energy think-thank Agora Energiewende, said  to the Financial Times.

Principally, the eclipse is being perceived as a sort of “stress test” of the power system. But John Meyer, an expert at London-based mining and energy broker SP Angel, told CNBC that there is no need to worry.

"You could similarly worry about volcanic ash clouds and dust storms," he said in an email. "Solar farms are nearly always combined with power from other sources to improve consistency. As a outcome, we don't see the event of an eclipse lasting long enough [to] make much of a change."

Industry worries aside, many Europeans are looking forward to receiving a glimpse of the eclipse. If you're planning a look-see, a note of caution: eye safety is vital when watching a solar eclipse.


Solar Eclipse

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