Construction has begun on what will end up being Europe’s largest floating solar plant, atop Godley Reservoir in the UK.
The project developer, and the UK’s largest listed water company, announced this week that the installation of Europe’s biggest floating solar power system had begun construction, on the Godley Reservoir in the town of Hyde in Greater Manchester, UK. The entire project will consist of 12,000 solar panels, covering an area of 45,5000 square meters of the reservoir’s total 60,000 square meters. Once completed, the project will provide the utility with 2.7 GWh of electricity per year, for use directly onsite.
With construction already under way, United Utilities is hoping construction, testing, and full operation will all be completed by Christmas, 2015.
“We have a target to generate 35 per cent of our power requirements by 2020 and this project will make a significant contribution to that aim,” explained Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at United Utilities. “As part of United Utilities’ energy strategy to generate more power we identified the Godley reservoir as a suitable site to install a floating solar array to provide the water treatment works with approximately 33 per cent of its energy requirements.
“While floating solar has been deployed elsewhere around the world, most notably in Japan, it is a new technology to the UK. Installations such as the Godley solar scheme will help us to keep energy costs and water customers’ bills low.”
Floating solar is by no means a new idea, with a bevy of such projects in development or in operation all around the world. The new Godley Reservoir plant will dwarf the UK’s only other site, an 800-panel pilot project in Berkshire (whose construction is seen below).
Japanese multinational manufacturer Kyocera is currently the developer and manufacturer behind a number of projects trending for largest floating solar power plant. In November 2014 the company announced that it would be developing a 7.5 MW solar power plant atop the Umenokifurukori reservoir in Japan, which was followed a month later by an announcement for a 13.4 MW floating solar power plant atop the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
In May alone, Kyocera completed two separate floating solar projects in Japan — the first, two projects totaling 2.9 MW at Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan; the second, a 2.3 MW project in Hyogo Prefecture.
Japan isn’t the only country moving forward with floating solar, however. Brazil announced earlier this year a phenomenal 350 MW pilot project planned for the Balbina hydroelectric plant. Australia saw the installation of a $9.5 million, 4 MW PV system atop a wastewater at a treatment facility in South Australia, India had plans for a 50 MW floating solar project, as did the US.