Sunniest March in NI on record boost for solar output

Northern Ireland enjoyed its sunniest March on record with a massive 90% more sunshine than the long-term average, new Met Office figures reveal.

By Mark Rainey
Friday, 1st April 2022, 5:52 pm

The total of 192.5 hours was significantly better than all other regions of the UK, and topped all previous bests all the way to 1919 when the records were first compiled.

UK-wide average was 166.1.

Not surprisingly, the long spells of unbroken sunshine led to an almost two-thirds increase in solar power output in NI compared to March last year, the electricity transmission system operator SONI said.

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Solar panels. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

According to SONI, a number of solar farms, the majority situated in Co Antrim, generated an average output of 20.7 GWh (gigawatthours) during each 24 hour period in March (compared to 12.6GWh last March).

SONI managing director Alan Campbell said: “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.”

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