OST Energy, the independent engineering consultancy, has published an account of its work with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), and one of Europe’s leading solar energy companies, Lightsource Renewable Energy, to bring Europe’s largest floating PV project to financial close earlier this year.

The 6.3 MW peak array, located on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir west of London, is providing clean energy to water utilities company Thames Water and has become the first floating solar project to secure European bank financing. Thames Water will buy all energy generated by the project as part of a PPA with Lightsource.

As floating solar moves from concept to large-scale development, the involvement of a major European bank in the financing of the project is a significant milestone for the industry and a recognition of the considerable commercial advantages afforded by the technology.

Backed by RBS, Lightsource provided management services for the technically demanding Queen Elizabeth II project, which saw the installation of more than 23 000 PV panels mounted on 61 720 individual floats. The company will continue to operate and maintain the site for the lifetime of the project.

In order to minimise investment risks, OST Energy was engaged early in the project lifecycle to carry out an in-depth assessment of long-term energy yields, technology choices and EPC and O&M contracts, alongside a review of technical inputs to the financial model and planning and grid connection arrangements. The aim was to demonstrate the long-term commercial viability of the project ahead of the necessary multi-million pound investment.