Thames Water is constructing what it says will be Europe’s biggest floating solar farm on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir five miles from Heathrow in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The farm, which will be made up of more than 23,000 solar photovoltaic panels and will have a total peak capacity of 6.5MW, is expected to be completed by the end of March 2016.
The floating pontoon will measure 57,500m2, the size of eight football pitches, and is expected to generate 5.8million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power 1800 homes, and will be used to part power a nearby water treatment works.
The reservoir is run by the water company, while the farm is being funded and operated by solar energy company, Lightsource. Thames Water’s energy manager, Angus Berry, said the farm would help the firm become “a more sustainable business”. The company is looking to self-generate a third of its energy by 2020.
The previous largest floating solar farm in Europe measured 45,500m2 andwas opened in Hyde, Greater Manchester, in December 2015. However, both it and Thames Water farm will both be dwarfed by the world’s largest. Kyocera is building what will be the biggest floating array on Yamakura Dam in Japan, which it claims will measure 180,000m2 when completed.