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Europe’s Largest Floating Solar Panel Project Is Being Installed on Thames Water’s QE II in Greater London

©Lightsource BP Group

Following an agreement between Thames Water, Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource Renewable Energy, just over 23,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be floated on the reservoir near Walton-onThames, utilising a normally unusable suburban space on the surface of the reservoir. Provided by Ciel & Terre, the innovative Hydrelio® floating pontoon is due to cover approximately 9% of the reservoir, which is the equivalent to 8 Wembley football pitches.

The low carbon, renewable energy produced by the floating solar generator will be used to help power Thames Water’s nearby water treatment works, which supplies water to customers. It will have a total installed peak capacity of 6.3 megawatts and is expected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in its first year – equivalent to the annual consumption of around 1,800 homes.

Lightsource, Europe’s leading solar energy company, is managing the installation of the project, which will make it the first UK solar company to install 1 GW of solar capacity.

Thames Water’s 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 – this is the right thing for our customers, the right thing for our stakeholders and most importantly the right thing for the environment.”

Ennoviga Solar’s co-founder Stefano Gambro added: “We’re delighted to have delivered another successful project for Thames Water that generates cost-effective electricity right where it’s used. Thankfully Lightsource has the skills, courage and persistence to understand this innovative technology and invest in Europe’s largest floating solar project.”

Nick Boyle, CEO at Lightsource, said: “The floating solar project is another excellent example of the flexibility of solar energy and how unutilised space can become a source of clean, renewable energy. 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.”

Eva Pauly, International Business Development Director at Ciel et Terre International, the manufacturer of the floating mounting system, said: “This is our largest project outside of Japan and the first one with European bank financing, proving that our technology has been recognised as bankable in Europe as well as Asia.”

As well as setting a target of generating 33% of its own renewable energy by 2020, Thames Water is striving to become more energy efficient to reduce its reliance on energy from the grid. It generated a total of 12.5% of its electricity requirements from renewable sources in 2014/2015, which is a 4% increase on the year before. In 2015, Thames Water pledged to support the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius and this project will contribute to achieving this goal.

The Queen Elizabeth II reservoir was commissioned in 1962 and has a capacity of 23.6 Megalitres of water with a surface area of 128.3 hectares and a perimeter of 4.3km. Thames Water currently has solar panels on 41 of its sites.

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