After 5 years of planning, Europe’s largest floating solar farm is set to power up. The solar array is located 8 miles from London’s Heathrow Airport floating atop Queen Elizabeth II reservoir, which feeds into the Thames Water Treatment Plant. This floating solar barge houses 23,046 solar panels and has a surface area just over 14 acres, yet covers less than 10% of the reservoir.
This solar farm is projected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in it’s first year, which is enough to power 1,800 homes. It will not be connected to the National Grid but after testing is complete, it will be attached to the private electrical grid at the water plant where it is expected to provide 20% of the plant’s electricity needs.
Nick Boyle the CEO of Lightsource, the company that built the array, says that “Constructing the array on the water added to the logistical challenge of the project but there are benefits as well. The solar panels wok optimally at low temperatures as does the wiring and the water acts to cool them, increasing their efficiency”.
Mr. Boyle also states “It will have no impact on the ecosystem. There are some waterbirds that live on the margins, but the reservoir is not intended as a home to wildlife, and if any fish are living there, they are accidental visitors”. The reservoir measures 59 feet deep, and provides water for Londoners in a constantly moving stream. Although most of the new growth in London is on the east, citizens tend to get their water from reservoirs on the west.
A Japanese company, Kyocera, is building what will be the biggest floating array on Kamakura Dam in Chiba Perfecture, which will measure 44+ acres when completed. What a great way to make use of the unusable.