Sunniest March on record drives increase in solar output

SONI, the electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland has announced that large scale solar output throughout March was up by almost two thirds when compared to March of last year.

A number of solar farms, the majority situated in County Antrim, generated an average output of 20.7 GWh (gigawatt hours) during each 24 hour period.

This meant that during most afternoons in March, when the sun was at its peak around midday, large scale solar was delivering 70MW (megawatts)  of electricity, enough to power around 70 thousand homes.

High pressure weather conditions, leading to record-breaking March sunshine meant that large scale solar output was 64% up on March 2021.

SONI, manages the Northern Ireland electricity grid and has enabled world leading levels of renewable energy onto the Northern Ireland power system.

SONI Managing Director Alan Campbell explains: “It is hard not to correlate the record breaking sunshine and heat we experienced this March with climate change, but it is important that we do what we can to arrest the climate crisis and renewable energy is a key part of this.

“During March, large scale solar made up 2.2% of Northern Ireland’s demand for electricity, and when you think that during the majority of afternoon’s in March, that solar was producing enough to power seventy thousand homes, it is clear to see the growing impact of this technology on Northern Ireland’s overall energy mix.”

The statistics shine a light on the contribution of large-scale solar to the Northern Ireland power system in March 2022:

Over the month the Solar power produced was 20.7 GWh up from 12.6 GWh  last year.

This satisfied 2.2 % of Northern Ireland’s demand, an increase from 1.4% in March 2021.