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Britain welcomes its first floating solar panel system

A solar panel project installed on a reservoir in Berkshire is expected to prove more lucrative than similar structures on fields

Solar panels

Are floating panels the future of solar in the UK?

As solar panels become increasingly less expensive and more efficient, they are becoming an increasingly common sight across the UK. However, one place you might not expect to come find solar panels is in the middle of a reservoir.

However, that’s precisely where Mark Bennett has decided to put his 800 solar panels. The panels are mounted on plastic floats and joined together to form a raft-like structure. The project is eligible to funding from the consumer subsidies and is set to make an estimated £620,000 in 20 years.

Profits of at least £620,000 within 20 years

Putting the panels on water is more profitable than having them on land, according to Bennett, as no agricultural land is sacrificed in order to house them.The installation is made up of 800 panels, is laid out over approximately 4000 square meters and has a 200kw capacity.

Bennett has calculated that the project will earn him at least £620,000 over the next 20 years. It cost £250,000 to install, however, Bennett expects to make £20,500 per year from it, thanks to government subsidies. He also believes he will save £24,000 on his electricity costs, due to no longer needing to rely on the National grid.

The system is already popular in Japan, where much larger floating solar panels are being put together.

Developers must consider environment when building similar structures

Policy and Campaigns Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Neil Sinden, told the Telegraph: “We welcome alternative sources of green energy, but any potential solar development should meet certain planning criteria – whether on land or on water.

“Visual impact on the landscape, as well as biodiversity and tranquillity, are all important considerations, both with the solar panels themselves and associated infrastructure such as grid connections and substations.”

He added that that although putting the panels on water meant valuable farm land did not go to waste, developers would need to guarantee the quality of the water the structure was built on. A system which he said could help improve water pollution levels.

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