architecture

Let’s build more solar car parks

In 2015 Britain’s first solar car park opened in Exeter. The city council put 500 panels on the top deck of their multistorey car park. People got to park in the shade and the dry, and the council created a new source of revenue by selling the electricity.

Cambridgeshire County Council has spotted this opportunity too, and it is building what will be the biggest solar car port in the country at one of their Park and Rides. It will improve the facilities for customers, run all the streetlights in the area, offer electric car charging and still sell a profitable surplus. It won’t be the largest for long. Bentley are planning one twice the size that will cover their 2,000 space staff car park in Crewe.

Which begs the question – why doesn’t everyone do this? Solar car ports don’t reduce the number of spaces in a car park. It all goes over the top. It doubles up on the land use, making more efficient use of space and making more money too. It supports the transition to electric vehicles, and I expect they’d be very popular too. Why isn’t every supermarket, leisure centre or retail park building them?

Perhaps they will. There’s one in Sutton, one in Barnsley, one on a Leeds shopping centre. The technology is being trialled in Scotland and demonstrated at the BRE site in Watford. Several companies are developing and promoting the idea, such as Flexisolar or Solarsense. They will be coming to a car park near you in the not too distant future.

6 comments

  1. Gee you would think in SouthAustralia being the driest dustiest and sunny part of Oz. You would have multiple solar car parks. Don’t no of one!

  2. This is the future also needs big dollars to fund .My rates are sky high and taxes will pay for these great ideas till they are economically feasible . I have delayed solar instillation till batteries are cheaper and my surplus power is charged out at close to the charge in rate . I could see new subdivisions having a shared power grid with metres in and out and charged at the same rate as power companies charge . Off the Grid with alternative power generation instantaneous switching between multiple power sources . I like the concept of shares in a power company with zero billing and surplus power sold at realistic prices .

  3. Park and Rides would seem to be the obvious one for this… You can fairly apportion generation between parked up electric vehicles, and reduce the need to export to the grid in constrained areas. The cost of the supporting framework is significant though.

    1. True, there’s an upfront cost, but it would pay for itself on a very predictable basis through selling the charging services and the electricity exports. So it would be easy to calculate returns on investment and secure funding for it.

  4. The Government should legislate through the planning process to make it mandatory that ALL new buildings and car parks should be fitted with solar panels and water capture at the very least.

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