Glasgow secures funding for innovative solar car park

An ambitious plan to transform a city car park into a solar power centre has secured £940,000 from a European Commission fund focused on pioneering research and innovation.

The award from the EU Horizon 2020 fund will go towards building a huge canopy of solar panels above the council-owned car park on Duke Street that will be primarily used to power the car park, which includes ten charging points for electric vehicles.

Money from the award will also be used to install a 500 kilowatt battery and a sophisticated controller that will allow for storage and sharing of the energy generated within the district captured via the solar panels.

The car park scheme is part of a wider initiative to develop a sustainable energy district along a section of George Street and Duke Street that involves Tennent’s Brewery, University of Strathclyde, Scottish Power, Siemens, Transport Scotland, Wheatley Group and Glasgow City Council.

Plans are also in place to erect up to seven intelligent LED lighting columns within the city centre that can also be used for electric vehicle charging.It is intended that the solar panel canopy, which will cover the equivalent of over 130 car parking spaces, will be fully operational by October 2019.

In the longer term it is also hoped that any excess power generated by the solar panels can be transferred to social housing at the neighbouring Drygate area. A scheme is also being put in place to install a smaller battery next to the Drygate flats which will store energy taken from the National Grid when power is generated cheaply.

Councillor Anna Richardson, the council’s City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, hailed the car park project as a key component in the ‘smart street’ emerging along the George Street-Duke Street corridor.

Councillor Richardson said: “This is an exciting and dynamic project that can take Glasgow closer to our goal of becoming the most sustainable city in Europe. Horizon 2020 funding is only ever awarded for projects that can demonstrate innovation that has the potential to be picked up and used elsewhere.

“We hope the Duke St scheme will eventually be replicated on car parks all across the city, but we also hope that other cities across Europe can learn from what’s happening in Glasgow. Developing robust relationships between all the organisations involved will be the key to the success of the Duke Street car park project.

“It is far more efficient and cost effective to gather and deliver energy locally and this project can show us a way to tackle fuel poverty.  Sustainable energy districts have the potential to transform how we power Glasgow.”

As a whole, the Glasgow consortium will receive over €4m from the EU to develop a suite of sustainable energy measures within the ‘smart street’ George Street- Duke Street corridor. Glasgow is also part of a wider consortium which draws in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Umea in Sweden. The consortium is known as Rotterdam, Umea & Glasgow: Generating Exemplar Demonstrations in Sustainable Energy Deployment, or RUGGEDISED for short.

Once the car park’s energy system is in the place, it will be subject to two years of monitoring and evaluation before wider learning is shared.

Other initatives within the Glasgow project including looking at the viability of the City Chambers being linked to the University of Strathclyde’s currently-under-construction district heating system and also excess energy from the brewing process at Tennent’s Brewery contributing to the heating needs of the Drygate flats.

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