The world’s most sun-powered nation is about to encounter an unusual complication: the moon.
When a solar eclipse sweeps across Europe on the morning of March 20th, the moon’s passage in front of the sun will cast a sudden and giant shadow across Germany — a country whose reliance on solar energy is, by international standards, astronomical.
Although Germany is no bigger than the state of Montana, it boasts more than a quarter of all the solar electric capacity installed on earth. Its 1.4 million solar energy systems produce nearly 7 percent of the nation’s electricity. (In the US, solar provides about 0.5 percent.) And during the sunniest hours of the year, photovoltaic systems have satisfied up to half of Germany’s power demand.
That raises an interesting question: when the moon blocks up to three-fourths of the sun shining on Germany later this month, how will electric utilities and the power grid respond?