|Energy||Starting date: 2017||Lightsource|
As floating solar moves from concept to large-scale development, the 6.3 MWp array on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near London saw the installation of more than 23,000 PV panels mounted on 61,720 individual floats. It is the first floating solar project to secure European Bank financing.
In order to minimise associated risks, RINA was engaged early in the project lifecycle to carry out an in-depth assessment of long-term energy yields, technology choices and EPC and O&M contracts, alongside a review of technical inputs to the financial model and planning and grid connection arrangements. In doing so, RINA’s specialist team of technical and engineering advisors was able to demonstrate the long-term commercial viability of the project ahead of the multi-million pound investment.
In addition to the typical due diligence scope, RINA undertook a number of inspection visits to existing small scale and pilot projects in France and Japan. We also carried out a detailed review and provided input to the revision of the structural design. Financing of the project was successfully closed in 2016 making the plant the first European Bank financed floating PV project.
The size of eight football pitches, the array is expected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in its first year, enough to power 1,800 homes. The solar array will not connect to the National Grid but after testing is completed, it will be attached to the private electrical grid where it is expected to provide 20% of the Thames Water plant’s electricity needs.
This first project finance deal illustrates that the technology now has considerable backing from the banking sector, and the visible success of early projects will ultimately contribute to cost reductions that will only enhance the appeal of floating solar to developers, independent power producers and investors.