Thames Water has announced that all 3.7MW of its solar projects have been signed off by Ofgem at the 30.7p/kWh pre-cut feed-in tariff rates. By completing the installations before the 12.9p rate kicked in, the company will generate a potential income difference of millions of pounds over the lifespan of the feed-in tariff scheme.

The various solar arrays have been fitted in locations that would be otherwise unused, including a 450kW array on the roof of the Beckton desalination plant in Newham, a 1,500kW system on the top of vast storm tanks built in the 1800s at Crossness sewage works in Bexley; and a 1,790kW installation at Walton water treatment works in Sunbury.

The projects were financed and implemented by Europe Solar Utility (ESU) together with Ennoviga Solar Ltd and engineering, procurement and construction company B&W Energy GmbH & Co.

 “We delivered this project in the nick of time, keeping alive our goal to become Britain’s biggest on-site producer and industrial user of solar power, and further hedging ourselves from future upward fluctuations in the mainstream, non-renewable energy markets,” said John Gilbert, Thames Water’s Head of Carbon and Energy Management.

Patrick Charignon, Chief Executive of Europe Solar Utility, said: “ESU provided the finance and the project management expertise to progress this project against very tight deadlines and a changing regulatory environment.

“Longer term the UK Government’s proposed cuts to the feed-in tariff have put the future of projects of this scale in doubt. However, utilities may still gain the benefits of solar PV through installations built around long-term power purchase agreements of the type used in this project.”

Under the 25-year contract, Ennoviga Solar has created an investment company that will own and maintain the solar arrays, repaying the investment by selling all of the solar energy produced to the water company at a market-competitive price. This is expected to save Thames Water £100,000 a year in energy bills.