Clean Power

Published on February 21st, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


Largest Floating Solar Power System In Europe Going Up In London

February 21st, 2016 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

Europe’s Biggest Floating Solar PV Array Now Being Installed In London

What will be the biggest floating solar photovoltaic (PV) array in Europe once completed — a 6.3 megawatt (MW) array on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir in London — is now under construction.

The developer — Lightsource Renewable Energy — has revealed that the project will be composed of 23,000 solar PV panels and will generate enough electricity to provide for the need of around 1800 local households once finished.

Ennoviga Solar is handling the construction of the project — which is expected to make use of 61,000 floats and 177 anchors. Construction is occurring to the west of the city, near Walton-on-Thames.

“Over the last 5 years we have 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,” stated Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle.

The Thames water’s energy manager, Angus Berry, commented as well: “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.”

“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,” stated Ciel et Terre international business development director Eva Pauly.

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  • egriff5514

    A welcome project – but this reservoir, like many others near London, is a major refuge/winter habitat for wintering birds (ducks)… which look likely to be displaced…
    Did anyone consider that? Especially if this is going to be a thing extended to other London/Thames Valley reservoirs (already there is a floating array near Reading)

  • ROBwithaB

    Are floats really that much more expensive than concrete foundations?

  • Carl Raymond S

    I’m a fan of pretty much every RE project going, but not this one. How many award winning nature photographs involve water? It’s wrong to take a thing of beauty and industrialise it. I wouldn’t support this until every roof on the planet was fully subscribed with panels, and we’re a long long way from there.

    (Perhaps it’s also the dinghy sailor in me – the open water on Sydney Harbour each year gets a little smaller, as the local government sells additional moorings to millionaires to park their yachts). Open water is precious and this feels like a threat.

    • jeffhre

      It’s a reservoir not the English channel. 🙂

      (from Ross)

      • Carl Raymond S

        Sorry – I added the EDIT as you replied.

        • jeffhre

          Good point. I wonder if there will ever be enough support to get the bureaucracies to pay attention. I have always thought that water storage, river flows and storm drainage could be handled as public resources instead of the strictly utilitarian direction it seems to be moving in.

          It is even more difficult to have this discussion now as water is seen as vulnerable to terror attacks.

          • Carl Raymond S

            Well, I think a terrorist could equally well disguise themselves as a solar panel installer/maintainer as a bona-fide sailor. I’d still campaign for opening reservoirs up to all-electric recreation.

    • Elephant_never_forgets

      The “Hot & Dry” locations around world should be primarily about desalination of salty sea water to fresh water for Human consumption or crop watering where the rains have failed
      ~ Helps reduce global sea levels against costs of ever more flood defenses
      ~ Helps improve water supply local growing of feed stuff against almost continual costs of food aid programmes
      ~ Helps reduce deaths from dehydration or other water related illness ~value of avoidable deaths at around £1M per person for purpose of UK Projects accounting
      ~ Helps improve the salinity of the oceans and improve the sea currents that are heavily reliant on the salt content and the difference in densities

      • Carl Raymond S

        Good points 2, 3, 4. Have you a link to any scientific study to support the first and last points?

        3% of the earth’s water is fresh – mostly glaciers and ice. Of that fresh water, only 0.3% is in rivers, lakes and swamps. Thus you would have to to double to world’s volume of rivers, lakes and swamps with dams and reservoirs to make a .03 x .003 = 0.00009 = .009% difference to ocean volume (thus salinity, as the salt remains constant).

        Literally, a droplet in the ocean.

        Further, big dams put pressure on tectonic plates and trigger earthquakes. Sea level rise is sea level rise – man has no defence.

  • Farmer_Dave

    What happens to the floating solar cells in a big storm?

    • Ross

      It’s a reservoir not the English channel. 🙂

      • Farmer_Dave

        Ah, that makes more sense. By the name in the original version I thought it was part of the Thames.

  • Richard Foster

    Given the large number of reservoirs in the UK, I don’t see why we don’t cover as many as technically possible with floating solar. I see it as a win-win solution.

    Yes, it costs a bit more, but the space is already being used and may save space for other things – useful in a country as densely packed as we are here.

    • Omega Centauri

      Cost does matter. Especially since the citizens can be greedy about wanting the cheapest power.

      So what is the price premium over a ground mount? Can this premium be brought down with economy of scale effects? I suspect this is already cheaper than residential roof mounting, and parking lot PV covers, so maybe it can developed into something whose price is low enough to push for wide scale use?

      • Elephant_never_forgets

        Seem to remember the cooling effect of the water actually increases the panel conversion efficiency

  • Bristolboy

    Floating solar costs more than land based, and this is no exception. The project is only economic for several reasons:
    – It qualifies for a higher subsidy initially intended for rooftop systems, as it is not “ground-mount” which is the other subsidy band
    – The electricity produced is used at an adjacent site, therefore it is displacing electricity at import prices rather than being sold
    – The site is within the M25 where there is little generation, but much demand, therefore the value of any sold electricity and associated embedded benefits are higher
    – Lightsource are able to utilise economies of scale to get cheaper prices and Thames Water as a massive organisation are very credit worthy which assists with the strength of the PPA

    • Martin

      One extra benefit of floating solar on water, reduce evaporation rates greatly.

      • Bristolboy

        My points were mainly to do with the economics, but that is an ancillary benefit – similarly the water helps to keep the panels cool to improve efficiency.

        Of course, in the UK temperatures are relatively low anyway…..

        • Martin

          When you think about some of the extra benefits of RE systems as compared to FF it makes one wonder why we are still using FF and many of the drawbacks of FF.

          • jeffhre

            Multiple trillions of dollars in subsidies worldwide? Banking on 200 years of lobbying? Ignorance? Inertia? Vested interests?

          • vorten

            Yeah that’s the guy, Book him, Danny

        • ROBwithaB

          I’m wondering why we haven’t seen more of this in hot and dry places.

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