The UK's first floating solar energy project has been installed on a water reservoir at Sheepland's Farm in Berkshire, England, according to the Telegraph (Watch the time-lapsed construction video below). The project consists of 800 solar panels mounted on plastic floats that are attached together to span roughly an acre on the water surface and provide 200 kW of capacity.
The Hydrelio Floating Solar System was developed by French company Ciel el Terre and will be distributed in the UK by the newly-formed Floating Solar UK and installed by renewable energy specialists The Greener Group.
"The launch of our new installation signals what we hope is a revolutionary new alternative for owners of large used, and unused, bodies of water who are wanting to generate both renewable energy and sustainable income," said Floating Solar U.K. CEO Mark Bennett.
Bennett believes the floating panels offer a more economical option than land-based solar energy projects, which take up valuable agricultural space. The floating panels also have a lower cost to install because there's no excavation work, according to the Telegraph, and have the potential to generate more energy because the cooling effect of the water may boost energy conversion.
Other benefits of the Hydrelio technology, according to a promotional sheet from The Green Group, are a reduction of water evaporation by up to 33 percent and reduced algae growth because of the shading the floating panels provide.
The Sheeplands Farm development was installed at a cost of £250,000 (US$405,000) and is eligible for rate-payer funded renewable power subsidies, which Bennett anticipates will provide a return of approximately £20,500 (US$33,000) annually over the next 20 years.