The largest floating solar array in the world is to be unveiled later this month on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir, at Walton-on-Thames. The array is estimated to generate almost 6 million kWh in its first year of operations. The energy will be used to power London’s water treatment plants.
Measuring in at 57,500 square meters, the 6 million pounds project will cover around a tenth of the reservoir which is enough to fill eight Wembley football fields. There will be more than 23,000 solar photovoltaic panels that will generate ample kilowatts to power up nearby water treatment works and help to provide clean drinking water to 10 million people in Greater London and south east England.
The reservoir is run by Thames Water, but the solar farm itself will be funded by solar energy, Lightsource Renewable Energy. Thames Water energy manager, Angus Berry said “Becoming a more sustainable business is integral to our long term strategy and this innovative new project brings us one step closer to achieving our goal.” Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource Renewable Energy workers are busy getting the largest floating solar array every built ready for its big unveil. This project was commissioned five years ago as part of the company’s pledge towards a more sustainable business model – their goal is to supply 33% of their energy requirements from clean sources by the year 2020. This kind of technology not only works for large bodies of water but smaller ones like lakes too.
“Over the last five years we have successfully completed ground and roof installations of all shapes and size, but this project has some obvious differences and has presented our team with a set of fresh challenges to overcome,” said Lightsource CEO, Nick Boyle. The floating array uses a mounting system developed by Ciel et Terre, which as been essential in providing floating technology. “This is our largest project outside of Japan and the first one with European bank financing, proving that our technology is not only suitable for water utilities, but has also been recognized as bankable in Europe as well as Asia,” said Ciel et Terre international business development director Eva Pauly.
These floating arrays have many advantages over their ‘on land’ counterparts. Firstly, they’re cheaper to build, as panels can be constructed on individual platforms and then be attached to the main structure and anchored. Secondly, they use space that would otherwise just go to waste and finally and most importantly, the water body’s cooling effect reduces maintenance hours and costs for the panels, meaning more power at a lower price.