Europe’s largest floating PV array is being built in London. Source: LightsourceEurope’s largest floating PV array is being built in London. Source: LightsourceConstruction of one of Europe’s largest floating solar PV arrays is underway on London’s Queen Elizabeth II reservoir. The 6.3 megawatt (MW) system will include more than 23,000 solar panels.

Solar development company Lightsource will oversee deployment of more than 61,000 floats and 177 anchors, which will provide a floating platform for the solar array. The project, scheduled for completion before the end of March 2016, is intended to help Thames Water self-generate 33 percent of its own power by 2020.

The floating array uses a mounting system developed by Ciel et Terre of France. "This is our largest project outside of Japan and the first one with European bank financing," says Ciel et Terre international business development director Eva Pauly.

The costs associated with floating systems remain higher than other land-based solar installations but are expected to come down as more manufacturing facilities for the injection-molded floatation devices become available.

The installations can offer a number of benefits, developers say, including the cooling effect of the water leading to higher electricity production. Floating systems also reduce evaporation throughout the year and limit algae growth while making use of unused spaces such as reservoir surfaces.

To contact the author of this article, email