Europe’s biggest ever floating solar panel array is being installed on London’s Queen Elizabeth II reservoir as part of Thames Water’s ambitious bid to self-generate a third of its own energy by 2020. Just over 23,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be floated on the reservoir near Walton-on-Thames, utilising a normally redundant suburban space on the surface, following an agreement between Thames Water, Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource Renewable Energy.
The innovative floating pontoon will cover around a tenth of the reservoir – enough to fill eight Wembley football pitches.
The low carbon, renewable energy produced will be used to help power the nearby water treatment works putting downward pressure on customer bills. It will have a total installed peak capacity of 6.3 megawatts and is expected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours in its first year – equivalent to the annual consumption of around 1,800 homes.
Thames Water’s energy manager, Angus Berry said: “Becoming a more sustainable business is integral to our long term strategy and this innovative new project brings us one step closer to achieving our goal – this is the right thing for our customers, the right thing for our stakeholders and most importantly the right thing for the environment.”
Lightsource, Europe’s leading solar energy company, has extensive expertise in both ground and roof mounted solar installations and is managing the installation. Drawing on the experience from its in-house team of engineers, planners and project managers, the company will oversee the deployment of more than 61,000 floats and 177 anchors, which will provide the floating platform for the solar array.
Nick Boyle, CEO at Lightsource, said: “We’re delighted to have begun work on another ambitious milestone project for Lightsource with our first floating solar installation. Over the last five years we’ve successfully completed ground and roof installations of all shapes and sizes, but this project has some obvious differences and has presented our team with a set of fresh challenges to overcome.
“There is a great need from energy intensive industries to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as the amount they are spending on electricity and solar can be the perfect solution. We’re therefore constantly evolving new skill sets to ensure that all of our projects deliver maximum energy generation over the lifetime of the installation.”
Ennoviga Solar’s co-founder Stefano Gambro added: “We’re delighted to have delivered another successful solar project, also for Thames Water, generating cost-effective electricity right where it’s used. Refreshingly, Lightsource has the skills, courage and persistence to understand this innovative technology and invest in Europe’s largest floating solar project.”
Eva Pauly, International Business Development Director at Ciel et Terre International, the manufacturer of the floating mounting system, added: “This is our largest project outside of Japan and the first one with European bank financing, proving that our technology is not only suitable for water utilities, but has also been recognised as bankable in Europe as well as Asia.”
As well as setting a target of generating 33% of its own renewable energy by 2020, Thames Water is striving to become more efficient to reduce its reliance on the grid. It generated a total of 12.5% of its electricity requirements from renewable sources in 2014/2015, which is a 4% increase on the year before. In 2015, Thames Water pledged to support the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius and this project will contribute to achieving this goal.
The Queen Elizabeth II reservoir was commissioned in 1962 and has a capacity of 23.6 Megalitres of water with a surface area of 128.3 hectares and a perimeter of 4.3km. Thames Water currently has solar panels on 41 of its sites.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!