The water utility floating solar energy option

Water and energy


Floating solar offers water utilities an opportunity to generate electricity in reservoir locations where power is needed. Keith Hayward looks at the early successes and prospects in the UK.

Floating solar installation at Godley Reservoir, UK (credit Ciel et Terre)
Floating solar installation at Godley Reservoir, UK (credit Ciel et Terre)

Mark Bennett, CEO of Floating Solar UK, looks back on the last year or so with a great deal of satisfaction. His company has supplied floating solar power systems to United Utilities, in a 3MW project, and to Thames Water, in a 6.3MW project. On top of that the company has supplied about one megawatt in total for projects on farms around the country. ‘That’s £10 million-worth of projects in the first year,’ he says.

The company is the sole UK supplier of the Hydrelio floating solar system of French company Ciel et Terre, which was set up in 2006 and has seen its technology deployed in particular through a Japanese subsidiary.

Bennett explains that he first came across the French company when investigating options for his own farm in Wargrave, Berkshire. ‘We wanted to be a carbon neutral farm,’ he says. He had built a 60 million litre reservoir to store winter water for summer soft fruit irrigation and this had a large pumping station alongside it. After Googling ‘floating solar’, he made contact with Ciel et Terre and then went ahead with a 200kW scheme of 800 floating panels.

‘I spent a quarter of a million pounds doing the project and had a lot of fun doing it,’ he says. ‘I then did a press release and very quickly realised there is a huge market for this.’

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  • UK, Floating Solar UK, Ciel et Terre, water supply, solar power, floating solar, water and energy