Floating on Water – the next big thing?

Construction of Europe’s largest floating PV solar farm got underway near London this week.

The 6.3MW project on Queen Elizabeth II reservoir in Walton on Thames is a partnership between Thames Water, Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource, using more than 61,000 floats, 23,000 panels and 177 anchors.

In the aftermath of the agreements reached at COP21, the project will be part of Thames Water's plans to source a third of its energy from renewables by 2020 with the aim of self-generating its own power. The company has an overarching strategy to be a sustainable and innovative business and the energy produced will help to power a nearby water treatment facility.

Floating systems are great for making use of redundant areas and where there are competing pressures for land, but to date the concept has not really taken off in the UK. In late 2015, a floating solar farm was installed on a reservoir in Manchester by United Utilities; meanwhile, construction is ongoing in Japan to build the largest floating solar array at 13.7MW.

Whilst we’re on the topic of floating, a Spanish firm is working to build “smart floating farms” that could be implemented in cities around the world to help combat the demand for food, growing populations and a lack of space in cities. The technology using hydroponics, will allow these water farms to be built on three levels: harnessing solar power at the top, growing crops in the middle and raising fish at the bottom.

This innovative concept could feature in both developed and developing countries as most global cities are built near rivers, lakes and oceans. Their floating farm concept shown in this video clip will ultimately be a sustainable growing solution, securing supply, lowering food miles and using renewable solar energy.

Plus it’s really cool.

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