Electrical grids in Europe claimed success today in managing the unprecedented disruption to solar power from a two and a half hour eclipse that brought sudden, massive drops in supply. 

Germany - Europe's biggest economy - has the world's biggest solar-powered installations, which last year supplied 6% of national power requirements. 

The initial 13 gigawatts (GW) drop in Germany was less than operators had feared.

They were able to draw on alternative power sources including coal, gas, biogas and hydroelectric energy pumped from storage. 

Solar power output has expanded sharply to 38.2 gigawatts (GW) since the region's last notable eclipse in 2003.

Forecasts for the day's solar output had earlier risen to 22 GW - the equivalent of 20 nuclear power stations - indicating greater potential for disruptions as the eclipse cuts out the sun's rays. 

The daily peak in 2014 was 23.4 GW. 

Operators across Europe - which outside Germany are less affected - had been making preparations for several months. 

In Britain, the National Grid said solar output would be reduced by 850 megawatts and there would be a small drop in demand as people were expected to go outside to see the phenomenon. 

In Spain, grid firm Red Electrica said reserve levels had been raised and big consumers would be disconnected, if necessary. 

Italy's Terna said 4.4 GW of solar power would be cut off and made up for from other sources.