Charging ahead: Europe’s largest floating solar farm powering up in Surrey

Europe’s largest floating solar farm is set to be built in Surrey by the end of March after five years of planning.

Measuring in at 57,500 square metres, the £6million project will cover around a tenth of the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Walton-on-Thames — enough to fill eight Wembley football pitches.

More than 23,000 solar photovoltaic panels will generate 5.8million kilowatts of energy, which will be used to part-power nearby water treatment works and help to provide clean drinking water to 10million people in Greater London and south east England.

Thames Water 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.”

The reservoir is run by Thames Water, but the solar farm itself will be funded by solar energy company, Lightsource.

“Lightsource, Europe’s leading solar energy company, has extensive expertise in both ground and roof mounted solar installations and is managing the installation,” added Mr Berry.

“Drawing on the experience from its in-house team of engineers, planners and project managers, the company will oversee the deployment of more than 61,000 floats and 177 anchors, which will provide the floating platform for the solar array.”

Hyde, in Greater Manchester, was the previous home of Europe’s largest solar panel farm that was opened last Christmas measuring in at 45,500 square metres.

Elsewhere, Japanese electronic company Kyocera began plans last month to build the world’s biggest solar panel farm, which is expected to be 180,000 square metres.

Nick Boyle, Lightsource CEO, 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.

“We’re therefore constantly evolving new skill sets to ensure that all of our projects deliver maximum energy generation over the lifetime of the installation.”

Image courtesy of Thames Water, with thanks

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