Just over 23,000 panels will be floated on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, a suburban town west of London (Thames Water)

‘Europe’s biggest’ floating solar panel project charges ahead in London

16 February 2016 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

Eight football pitches worth of photovoltaic (PV) panels being installed now on a reservoir near London will generate enough energy to power 1,800 homes a year.

The project undertaken by the utility company Thames Water is the latest to lay claim to being Europe’s biggest ever floating solar panel array, and is part of the private firm’s bid to generate a third of its own energy by 2020.

“The energy produced won’t power houses but instead will help run a nearby water treatment plant which, the utility says, will help keep customers’ bills down.”

Just over 23,000 panels will be floated on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, a suburban town west of London. The array will cover around a tenth of the reservoir’s surface area.

The energy produced won’t power houses but instead will help run a nearby water treatment plant which, the utility says, will help keep customers’ bills down.

The array, developed by Thames Water, Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource Renewable Energy, will have a total installed peak capacity of 6.3 MW and is expected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in its first year – equivalent to the annual consumption of around 1,800 homes.

Ciel et Terre International is the manufacturer of the floating mounting system.

The company’s international business development director, Eva Pauly, said it was the company’s largest project outside Japan, and the first with European bank financing. She said it  showed the technology was “bankable in Europe as well as Asia”.

In 2014 Ciel et Terre and two other companies in Japan announced a plan to build the world’s largest floating solar array in the prefecture of Hyogo in Western Japan.

Last year another UK water company, United Utilities, said it would be building Europe’s largest floating solar power system on the Godley reservoir in Hyde, Manchester, with 12,000 panels.

Thames Water’s energy manager Angus Berry said the move was “the right thing for our customers, the right thing for our stakeholders and most importantly the right thing for the environment.”

At Walton-on-Thames, solar company Lightsource will install more than 61,000 floats and 177 anchors for the array.

Commissioned in 1962, the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir has a surface area of 128.3 hectares and a perimeter of 4.3km.

Thames Water currently has solar panels on 41 of its sites.

Photograph: Just over 23,000 panels will be floated on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, a suburban town west of London (Thames Water)