After five years of careful planning and the manufacture of 23,000 panels, the world’s biggest floating solar farm is finally finished and in full operation on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir in south west London.
The primary purpose of the farm is to generate power for the numerous local water treatment plants and, better still, the ambitious Walton-on-Thames project won’t fall foul of the NIMBYs. Very few people besides Heathrow passengers and some residents of a local estate are likely to ever see the mass of solar panels as the man-made lake is almost invisible.
Similarly, considering that the project will only employ a maximum of 6% of the reservoir’s surface, it is not expected to have any impact on the local ecosystem or the water birds that live on its margins.
Angus Berry, energy manager for the project’s owners Thames Water, said:
It is hoped that the £6m project will generate enough electricity to power the utility’s local water treatment plants for decades and help provide clean drinking water to almost 10 million people in greater London and the south east, which in turn will alleviate a huge and often unrecognised drain on the UK’s electricity supply.
The promise of this success is being looked on keenly by the north west, for the reason that a similar floating solar farm – albeit with around half the capacity of the Thames Water project – is being built by United Utilities on a reservoir near Manchester.
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