Lightsource begins work on Europe's largest floating PV array in London


Solar development company Lightsource has begun work on the installation of Europe’s largest floating PV array in London.

The floating solar plant is being constructed on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir in the U.K. capital, and once completed will cover an areas the equivalent of eight soccer pitches, generating enough clean energy to power 1,800 local households annually.

Situated to the west of the city near Walton-on-Thames, the solar array will boast a peak capacity of 6.3 MW drawn from 23,000 panels. The installation has been commissioned by local water authority Thames Water, which has set a target of generating a third of its energy from clean, distributed sources by 2020.

Lightsource is to work with Ennoviga Solar on the construction of the floating array, which will utilize 61,000 floats and 177 anchors once complete. "Over the last five years we have 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 Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle.

Boyle called solar a "perfect solution" for helping energy intensive industries in the U.K. to reduce their carbon footprint, and remarked that the onus was on the solar industry to constantly evolve new skill sets and embrace new innovations in order to deliver maximum energy generation for solar, particularly in a country like the U.K., where land space is often at a premium.

Angus Berry, Thames water’s energy manager, added: "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." Thames Water currently has solar panels at 41 of its sites in the southeast of England.

The floating array uses a mounting system developed by Ciel et Terre, which has been pivotal in providing floating technology that has brought buoyancy to a relatively callow section of the solar industry. "This is our largest project outside of Japan and the first one with European bank financing, proving that our technology is not only suitable for water utilities, but has also been recognized as bankable in Europe as well as Asia," said Ciel et Terre international business development director Eva Pauly.