Olympus Power constantly monitors trends in the market for renewable energy, and have noted with interest the rise using car park space for solar systems.
Olympus Power considers the potential for solar canopies in all their commercial schemes when reviewing the overall site options for rooftop and ground mounted installations. The team can see great potential for supermarkets, retail parks, industrial estates, and leisure complexes to benefit from renewable energy by using their car parking space with solar panels.
At the end of last year legislation was passed in France requiring all car parks with more than 80 spaces to be covered with solar panelling, whether domestic, commercial or local authority owned.
The UK does not have a requirement for solar car parks like some other countries, but the BBC has called car parks ‘the hottest space in solar power’. There is a growing trend of businesses using on-site solar canopies to reduce electricity costs. A report by CBRE and UCL Energy Institute suggests that there is a significant opportunity to turn British car parks into solar farms, with an estimated potential of 11GW of solar power in car parks alone. This could contribute to the country’s overall potential of 117GW of solar power in the built environment.
Local authorities and NHS Trusts could also benefit, with Leicester County Council having used funding from a European grant to fund solar parking projects to meet their objectives towards net-zero carbon emissions.
The team at Olympus Power have modelled over 30 carport schemes with a variety of businesses who are interested in solar car parks, and the benefits are numerous:
- Saving money and carbon emissions: Businesses generating their own power can reduce their energy bills and make a huge contribution to carbon emission targets using solar power, just by using the space they have.
- Other environmental benefits: Solar canopies provide shade and reduce the amount of direct sunlight reaching the ground, lowering the temperature. By providing shade to buildings, they can reduce energy consumption by reducing the need for air conditioning.
- Health benefits: Solar canopies protect from UV rays, and can provide a shaded outdoor space for staff and customers, they are also useful on rainy days protecting workers and shoppers alike from the elements.
- Aesthetics and design: Solar canopies can enhance the visual appeal of a car park and attached business, making it more attractive and inviting. They can be sympathetically designed to complement the surrounding architecture.
Considering these benefits, it is surprising that solar canopies are not more widespread. To date the economics have been challenging, with solar carports costing roughly double ground mounted solar – however with some recent innovations these costs have come down. We believe their implementation should be encouraged and supported by policymakers, urban planners, and communities to create more liveable and sustainable cities.
In addition to car parks, there are other unused transport spaces where solar systems could be installed. These include: beside and near to roads, covered cycle lanes, central reservations and railway land. Challenges with these spaces are initial investment and ownership, as well as connectivity to the grid or energy storage solutions. Olympus Power is working to overcome some of the challenges, and can produce compelling evidence for the benefits of ground-mounted solar systems.
Talk to the team at Olympus Power about using your land to its highest potential. We will be able to give you an accurate prediction of savings to energy bills and carbon emissions when installing solar canopies – using the space you already have.