Japan is not the only nation that owns PV systems floating on water surface – Thames Water, a UK company, is about to complete a 6.3MW floating PV system on London’s Queen Elizabeth II reservoir (QEII project). The QEII project will be the world’s largest floating PV system until the completion of Kyocera’s 13.7MW system in Chiba Prefecture scheduled in 2017.
More than 23,000 solar PV panels will be floated on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Walton-on-Thames after a 5-year planning and construction with an investment of approximately ₤6 million. The Guardian reports that the electricity generated from the QEII project will be used to power Thames Water’s local water treatment plants for decades, providing clean drinking water to a populace of nearly 10 million people in greater London and the south-east of England.
The power generation in the first year is expected to reach 5.8 million kWh, equivalent to the annual power consumption of around 1,800 homes.
Thames Water owns the floating PV system, while Lightsource Renewable Energy is responsible to managing and installing. Angus Berry, Thames Water’s energy manager, said, “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.”
Lightsource Renewable Energy deployed more than 61,000 floats and 177 anchors to provide the floating platform for the solar array. Berry pointes that the solar panels cover approximately 6% of Queen Elizabeth II reservoir’s surface and have no impact to the ecosystem. He also hopes to encourage more followers in UK and abroad.
Although the current UK government has decided to slash subsidies for solar and wind power projects, the QEII project still enjoys certain incentives. However, Berry told The Guardian that the subsidy cut might have an effect on whether follow-up projects could go ahead. “We have had to look very closely at the economics of this, at all stages,” cited The Guardian.
On the other half of the globe, Japan’s Kyocera is now building a 13.7MW floating PV plant in cooperate with Tokyo Century Leasing. The plant locates on a reservoir in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, and is scheduled to be completed in 2017. This is the world’s largest floating PV system under construction.