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UU invests £3.5M in floating solar panels

United Utilities (UU) has revealed plans to invest £3.5 million in what will be Europe's largest floating solar power development.

The water company told The Telegraph that it will begin the installation of 12,000 solar panels on the surface of its Godley reservoir in Greater Manchester today in a bid to reduce its energy costs.

The 3MW project is expected to meet a third of the energy needs of the water treatment works and is the second largest in the world, behind a similar scheme in Japan.

The floating solar project is the latest solar investment from UU which in February this year said it plans a £100 million investment programme in solar panels over the next five years, as it seeks to increase its self-generation capabilities.

At the time UU energy manager Neil Carroll said: “For a business like us, solar energy just makes sense. We’re committed to increasing efficiency and reducing the cost of energy to run our sites, therefore reducing the effect of rising energy costs on us and our customers’ bills - while also helping to reduce pollution and protect our environment.”

The plans also play to an increasing trend towards distributed energy sources which could ease the capacity constraint on the electricity grid and reduce the need for expensive centralised energy sources.

But UU’s plans for further solar development could be under threat following a raft of cuts to renewable energy subsidies in recent months.

UU director of energy strategy Neil Gillespie told The Telegraph that the company has plans to roll out 100MW of solar capacity, but only 40MW of this would be developed in time to avoid the subsidy cut. He said it was “doubtful” whether a second floating solar project would go ahead in Lancaster if the subsidy cuts were as harsh as planned.

The Godley project is expected to be complete by Christmas, according to the report.

-This article first appeared on Utility Week.

Author: Jillian Ambrose,
Topic: Energy/Water Nexus , Sustainability & social value
Tags: solar power , reservoir

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