Solar panels commissioned at UK desalination plant

Thames Water in the UK at the end of July commissioned a 450 kW array of solar panels at its 150,000 m³/d Beckton brackish-water desalination plant as part of a bid to become Britain’s biggest on-site solar power producer and industrial user.

Under a £ 7 million 25-year contract, Ennoviga Solar Ltd, a specialist photovoltaic developer, has created an investment company that will own and maintain solar arrays at three Thames Water sites, repaying the investment by selling all the clean electricity produced to the water company at a market-competitive price.

Dr Piers Clark, commercial director at Thames Water, said, “With the price of energy forecast to increase above inflation, the way we’ve structured this agreement will give us cheaper, renewable source of power from a secure source over the long term.”

The Beckton desalination site (see D&WR cover feature August/September 2010) will generate 385 MWh/year on average, while 150 kW arrays installed above ancient storm tanks at Crossness sewage works and redundant sand filters at Walton water treatment works will each generate 133 MWh/year on average, enough to power 140 average-sized homes.

Crossness and Walton will eventually be expanded to 1,700 MWh/year and 3,000 MWh/year respectively. Thames Water has set a voluntary target of reducing its greenhouse emissions by 20% in real-terms on 1990 levels by 2015.