Europe's largest floating solar farm installed near London

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Europe’s largest floating solar panel array with the capacity to provide power to around 1,800 homes is currently being installed near London.

The project comes as Thames water – which supplies water to most of London and the South of England – pledged to support the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2°C, with a target to self-generate 33 per cent of its own power by 2020.

Solar companies Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource are involved in development and installation of more than 23,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that will be floated on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near London. It is anticipated that the installation will be completed this month.

The floating pontoon will cover around a tenth of the reservoir – enough to fill eight football pitches. The energy produced will be used to help power the nearby water treatment works putting downward pressure on customer bills. 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 is managing the installation of the project. 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.

'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,’ said Nick Boyle, CEO at Lightsource. ‘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.’

The Queen Elizabeth II reservoir was commissioned in 1962 and has a capacity of 19.6 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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