Sustainable Energy

Green light for huge floating solar farm

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
United Utilities

The north of England is set to be home to Europe's largest floating solar power system.

Water company United Utilities (UU) is developing a 12,000 panel system covering an area of more than 45,000 square meters. The system will be installed on Godley reservoir in Hyde, Greater Manchester.

"The big thing is that it is allowing us to generate some of our own power requirements for that site," Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at the company, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Globally, the potential of solar power is considerable: in 2014 the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that by 2050 the sun could become the world's biggest source of electricity.

"About 33 percent of that particular water treatment works' power requirements can now be met from this system," Stubbs added.

"That means that we don't buy that power from the grid, and that in turn means there's less demand on the grid."

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United Utilities say the plant – which will generate 2.7 gigawatts per year – is an investment of £3.5 million ($5.3 million) that will help cut energy costs and also keep the future water bills of customers low.

"UU – like many other companies – consider that power costs are likely to be increasing over the next 10-20 years, and therefore you expect that is ultimately going to be reflected in customer bills, or price settlements," Stubbs said.

"The alternative is (to), where we can… insulate the company from rising energy prices by building our own generation facilities," he added. This, Stubbs said, would help to keep customers' bills from rising.

It is hoped that the system will be fully installed and in operation by the end of the year.