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Throwback Thursday: The Great Solar Eclipse of 1999

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Energy Industry Analysis, Throwback Thursday

Stood on the front wall wearing solar protective glasses, my 9 year old self curiously witnessed the phenomenon of the last solar eclipse back in 1999, a time when Tony Blair was still Prime Minister, solar power made up only 0.1% of Europe’s renewable energy generation and 58 million people across the UK became gripped by the spectacle of the moon crossing the sun.

Whilst I at the time was preoccupied by the excitement of school holidays, many urban myths began circulating amongst the superstitious: myths that the moon could potentially overpower the sun, casting our planet in to a state of eternal darkness or that the crossing of the moon over the sun was a sign from God that “the end was near”.  Well, perhaps this was all a little far-fetched as the world did not in fact end in 1999, as here we are, 16 years on, eagerly awaiting the rarest event in the cosmos.

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Solar Eclipse in Penzance, Cornwall 1999

With the latest Solar Eclipse just a few hours away, Its interesting to reflect on the huge changes  the last 16 years have brought to the UK and our energy use: Tony Blair left Downing Street over 8 years ago, solar power now makes up over 10.5% of Europe’s renewable energy generation and over 64 million people across the UK still continue to be captivated by the celestial phenomenon. Whilst a lot has changed over the past 16 years, bizarre myths of giant space frogs consuming the sun and fears for the end of the world still persist, and have found a new lease of life to a global audience via Facebook and Twitter.

So whilst the superstitious amongst us once again plummet in to a sense of hysteria, most of us will accept the event as nothing more than a dazzling display of nature and will wait patiently to see it. Though the whole event will last only a few hours, experts have calculated that the Moon’s needy intrusion on our day will cause us to miss out on a stunning 35,000 megawatts of solar energy. The National Grid is prepared for this and have assured consumers that there will be no issues, but it demonstrates how, in less than a generation, solar power has become an integral part of our nation’s infrastructure.

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Solar Eclipse above the Angel of the North, 1999

The solar eclipse will be most visible towards the North of England, beginning at around 8am and peaking at about  9.30 —  before the sun comes back at about 11am. So, while you’re looking out for this incredible natural phenomenon (remember never to look directly at the sun!) – don’t panic, it will only affect your solar panels temporarily.

Are you interested in generating FREE electricity for your home? Just click the link below to enquire about your FREE solar panels today!

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