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Water operator taps into solar power supply

Affinity Water builds on its' net zero plans with over 1.8K solar panels, equalling 16% of its site energy use. Watch Steve Plumb of Affinity Water talk about the project.
1,820

PV panels at one site

1MWp

solar installation

188

tonnes/year CO2 reduction

Affinity Water is the largest water-only supplier in the UK. Every day it supplies a total of around 950 million litres to 3.6 million customers in parts of Greater London, Kent and Essex.

Affinity Water has a long-standing commitment to the environment and sustainability and has campaigned for legislative change to highlight water efficiency and its role in tackling climate change. It has also committed to reach net zero operational emissions by 2030, and to be fully net zero by 2050.

The business’s environmental efforts go beyond water conservation, however treating and distributing drinking water to customers is an energy-intensive process in itself, and Affinity Water’s biggest contributor to carbon output. It is therefore a key area in which Affinity Water is looking to extend its sustainability initiative as part of its Plan for Net Zero.

Supply-chain expertise

As the first step in a wider plan to generate 10% of its energy through sustainable solar and other renewable generation, Affinity Water partnered with Centrica Business Solutions to install solar panels at its Water Treatment Works in Chertsey, Surrey, in the United Kingdom.

Affinity Water’s Chertsey Water Treatment Works produces 45 million litres a day and it now houses 1,820 solar panels.

We chose Centrica Business Solutions because we’re new to this. We needed a partner with the supply chain and expertise to install the solar panels efficiently and safely.”
Steve Plumb, Asset Strategy and Capital Delivery Director Affinity Water

Clean and renewable

The Chertsey site is a 1MW solar installation with 1,820 photovoltaic (PV) panels, generating around 16% of the plant’s total power need – the equivalent of around 250 households.

Combined with the solar installation at its Walton Water Treatment Works of 1,200 solar panels, installed by another provider, the two installations generate a total of 1.5MWp of clean and renewable energy.

A brilliant business case

The two sites are now live and operational, and acting as compelling proofs of-concept for the project’s wider implementation. Affinity Water now plans to extend the project to a further 28 sites in its quest to meet its initial target of generating 10% of its overall power usage from solar, including sites significantly bigger than Chertsey and Walton.

“It’s been really important for us to have buy-in from Affinity’s Board, but the business case is brilliant,” explained Plumb. “The board has really bought into the project, and it’s now actually pushing me to go faster.”

Justin Jacober, Managing Director at Centrica Business Solutions, added: “One reason we love to work with water companies such as Affinity is our ability to access land, which allows us to construct and produce immediate demand response from an electrical standpoint. This project will reduce carbon by 188 tonnes a year, and we can replicate this on many other sites.”

Jacober concluded: “Given the current market volatility, there’s no better time to invest in projects such as this. It reduces businesses’ Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) footprints, it contributes to reporting climate requirements, and overall it’s great for the environment and the economy.”

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