UK water company seeks solar power from large scale, rooftop and floating plants

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British water company Southern Water has issued a request for information (RFI) with a view to installing solar arrays at its sites, including from floating PV projects.

Southern – which operates in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent – said it is exploring the feasibility of signing power purchase agreements (PPAs) for enough solar electricity to raise the renewable energy proportion of its power mix from its current 16.5% to 24% by the end of March 2023. “In order to reach and exceed this target, Southern Water [is] looking to contract with a supplier [or suppliers] for the full end-to-end process of a solar PPA, with zero capital expenditure, for an initial tranche of 28 sites to produce a minimum of 10 MW using a combination of ground-mounted, rooftop and floating arrays (site dependent),” the RFI document states.

Solar developers and installers have until January 10 to express interest. “This RFI is issued solely for information and planning purposes – it does not constitute a request for proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future,” the utility stressed. “The purpose of this RFI is to help Southern Water plan and gather all the required information that the market would expect to minimize the risks and maximize the success, should this be formally tendered.”

Southern’s largest shareholder is JP Morgan Asset Management, which owns 40% of the company. UBS Asset Management, Hermes Infrastructure Funds and Whitehelm Capital own 22%, 21% and 8%, respectively. The utility operates 91 water treatment works and 13,870km of water mains, as well as 365 wastewater treatment works and 39,594km of sewers.

The company switched on its first, and so far only solar assets – with a total generation capacity of 4.2 MW – at large water treatment centers in October 2017. Those plants account for the 16.5% renewables share of Southern’s power mix cited above.

This article was amended on 17/12/19 to reflect the request for information relates to the installation of new solar capacity on Southern Water sites.