United Utilities is to bolster its self-generation to the tune of 3MW as work begins this week on a floating solar PV plant at Godley reservoir. The water firm will complete the installation ahead of steep cuts to solar subsidies.
The Hyde project will be the largest floating solar plant in Europe and is expected to deliver up to 2.7GWh of power per annum. United Utilities hopes the system will be commissioned and operational before Christmas.
Power is one of the water company’s biggest operational costs and the solar installation is one of a number of schemes United Utilities is implementing to cut bills and earn revenue from its assets.
The company has also outlined plans to significantly scale its demand response capability, aiming for capacity of some 50MW over the next five years. Around 30MW will come from diesel generators providing short term operating reserve (STOR).
The floating solar plant will be the second biggest in the world, although several giant installations in Japan will likely usurp the podium in 2016.
United Utilities head of renewable energy Chris Stubbs said the firm planned to generate 35% of its power requirements by 2020. The project would deliver “a significant contribution” to that aim, he said and would provide the Hyde treatment works with a third of its energy requirements.
“As part of United Utilities’ energy strategy to generate more power we identified the Godley reservoir as a suitable site to install a floating solar array to provide the water treatment works with approximately 33 per cent of its energy requirements.
“While floating solar has been deployed elsewhere around the world, most notably in Japan, it is a new technology to the UK. Installations such as the Godley solar scheme will help us to keep energy costs and water customers’ bills low.”