Lancashire based water company, United Utilities, is to build Europe’s largest floating solar PV system. It is the World’s second largest; beaten only by an installation in Japan.
The installation is rated at 3MW and forecasted to cost £3.5m once operational on a reservoir near Manchester. The system will comprise 12,000 panels and will provide a third of the power for one of the company’s water treatment works. The race is now on to get the project completed before proposed cuts in subsidies come in next year. The land-based technology is cheaper than the floating panels.
A second floating installation is planned but is dependent on the level of subsidy available. United Utilities are also in the process of installing a further 100MW of solar PV capacity on their land with 40MW expected to qualify for the current subsidy rate. Returns are expected to be around 12% to 14% under the current subsidy regime and around 9% after cutbacks.