In March 2016, Lightsource Renewable Energy successfully completed and connected Europe’s largest floating solar farm. The 6.3MW installation sits on the surface of the Queen Elizabeth the Second reservoir just outside of London, and is connected directly into Thames Water’s private network. The solar farm supplies green, renewable solar electricity to the utility company via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), satisfying around 20% of the plant’s energy needs, as part of Thames Water’s ambitious bid to self-generate a third of its own energy by 2020.
The ambitious floating installation was a first for Lightsource. Drawing on the experience of our in-house team of engineers, planners and project managers, the company oversaw the deployment of more than 61,000 floats, 177 anchors. 61,000 floats formed a platform for 23, 046 solar panels – the entire installation was constructed on the shore by Biosar, and then pushed out onto the reservoir. Once in position, the installation was fixed in place with 177 anchors, secured by professional divers. With a surface area of 57,000m2, the solar array covers less than 10% of the reservoir, but is able to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in one year, enough to power 1,800 homes.
When the completion of the solar farm was announced, the following statements were released:
Nick Boyle, CEO of Lightsource, said: “We’re delighted to have begun work on another ambitious milestone project for Lightsource with our first floating solar installation. Over the last five years we’ve successfully completed ground and roof installations of all shapes and sizes, but this project has some obvious differences and has presented our team with a set of fresh challenges to overcome. There is a great need from energy intensive industries to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as the amount they are spending on electricity and solar can be the perfect solution.”
Angus Berry, Energy Manager for Thames Water, 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 – this is the right thing for our customers, the right thing for our stakeholders and most importantly the right thing for the environment.”
Eva Pauly, International Business Development Director at Ciel et Terre International, the French manufacturer of the floating mounting system, added: “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 recognised as bankable in Europe as well as Asia.”