World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm to Provide 10 Million People with Clean Water

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The world’s largest floating solar farm is nearing completion outside of London, England.

The solar farm will span 57,500 square meters (or about eight soccer stadiums) of the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir and will consist of 23,000 solar panels, covering about a tenth of the reservoir. It is slated to be completed by the end of March.

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Utility company Thames Water runs the reservoir, while Lightsource Renewable Energy — a private solar energy company based in London — is responsible for the funding and operation of the revolutionary farm.

“This will be the biggest floating solar farm in the world for a time — others are under construction,” Angus Berry, energy manager for Thames Water, told The Guardian. “We are leading the way, but we hope that others will follow, in the UK and abroad.”

Floating solar farms are built by divers attaching anchors to the bed of a reservoir or lake, which are then fixed to floats at the water’s edge. The solar panels are then attached to the floats. In total, over 61,000 floats and 177 anchors will be used in the project.

Floating solar panels have a number of advantages over panels mounted on rooftops or in fields. The water naturally cools the floating panels, improving the power production efficiency. The panels also provide shade to the water, limiting the growth of algae.

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As Berry also noted, “the water is there, and might as well be used for this purpose.”

Quartz news reported that it is relatively easy to assemble a floating solar farm: “Rather than using heavy machinery required for ground-mounted installations, the panels are clipped together and pushed out from the bank of the lake.”


In a press release, Thames Water stated that it expects the farm to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in its first year. That is the equivalent to the annual energy consumption of about 1800 homes.

The energy produced will be used to help power the water treatment works near the reservoir, which will help to decrease residents’ water bills, and will provide a source of renewable energy to bring clean drinking water to nearly 10 million people in the greater London area.

“There is a great need from energy intensive industries to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as the amount they are spending on electricity, and solar can be the perfect solution,” Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle said in press release.

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Similar floating solar farms are under construction, or have already been completed, both in England and around the world. Recently, a 45,500 square meter solar farm opened in Greater Manchester, England and water company United Utilities, also in Manchester, is currently constructing a similar project that will have about half the capacity of the Thames Water project. In Japan, solar company Kyocera is in the process of building an 180,000 square meter floating solar farm (see featured image at the top) that is set to be completed in 2018.

For their dedication to providing clean, renewable energy, for their innovation, and for helping to lead the charge in the energy revolution we are happy to name the folks at Lightsource and Thames Water our Luminaries of the Week.

Image Credits: “Artist’s Impression of Kyocera Solar Power Farm” by Kyocera TCL Solar LLC — “London’s Queen Elizabeth II reservoir” by Thames Water Utilities Limited


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About the author: Gary Joshua Garrison


Gary Joshua Garrison is the Prose Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. His fiction has appeared in various locations around the World Wide Web, as well as in bound reams of paper. His nonfictional musing can be found at Luminary Daily and Way Too Indie. He writes, teaches, and goes to the movies in the desert of Arizona with his well-postured cat, Widget.



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