The search for alternative energy supplies has been high on the minds of scientists and governing bodies around the world for decades now.
With fossil fuels decreasing at an alarming rate this need is fast becoming a world wide necessity. Thankfully there have been plenty of innovative high-tech and low-tech solar solutions which are helping various industries and businesses change their practices to incorporate and even help encourage energy efficiency and other eco-conscious applications.
One such solar powered facility recently opened just outside London. It’s the world’s biggest floating solar power farm, cost more than £6 billion to build, and it can be found just outside the capital near Heathrow airport.
The farm is situated on the surface of the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir and is made up on over 23,000 special solar photovoltaic panels. The facility, the size of 8 football pitches, has been built in order to provide an energy supply to Thames Water treatment plant.
The floating solar farm only fills less than 10% of the reservoir itself and has a surface area of 57,000 m2. It’s expected to generate a massive 5.8 million kilowatt hours within its initial year which is enough energy to power up to 1,800 homes.
The main reason that the solar array was built upon the water as opposed to land, which notably had construction challenges of its own, is mostly due to the fact that the panels themselves work better at lower temperatures. The water is able to keep the panels cool, enabling them to work even more efficiently. Of course with the farm being on water it also avoids any other unnecessary impact on the ecosystem itself due to the fact that the reservoir itself isn’t home to any wildlife.
The array of solar panels on the reservoir will not be directly connected at all to the National Grid. Instead it will be hooked up to the private electrical grid of the water plant and it is expected to help power the plant for decades to come. The energy that is generated will be able to provide cleaner drinking water more nearly 10 million people in both the south east of England and residents within the greater London area.