Solar car port opens at council HQ

Northumberland County Council has opened its new state-of-the-art solar car port array, which is one of the biggest of its kind in the UK.

The project includes a covered parking area with a canopy made from photovoltaic (PV) panels, designed and built by UK Power Networks Services, and providing clean energy to the council’s headquarters at County Hall in Morpeth.

The new solar infrastructure is one of the largest car port array installations in the UK with 800kW solar panels, and a 400kW battery energy storage system with smart controls to optimise energy use, carbon emissions and costs throughout the day.

Energy from the solar panels will be used to power the main building, provide electricity to electric vehicle (EV) charge points for fleet and staff vehicles and also stored to help optimise costs and carbon efficiency. 120 EV charge points have been installed in the staff car park, including 100 fast chargers and 20 rapid chargers.

The investment is part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme, with match-funding from the council, which it plans to recoup through energy savings. 

It is planned that the new solar infrastructure will save between £100,000 and £150,000 on energy costs each year, which can then be directly invested in council services. In addition, it is estimated more than 250 tonnes of carbon emissions will be saved each year. The council will also the use to consider applying similar solutions to other public car parks.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, council leader and Cabinet member for Climate Change said: “It’s great to see this initiative finally come to fruition which will save a massive amount on council energy supply spending and will also reduce the need for us to rely on fossil fuels to power our main building.

“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen. It is a real example of using innovative technologies to move us towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

David Mitchell, director of UK Power Networks Services said: “We are delighted to be delivering such a pivotal project for Northumberland County Council to assist in their objective of reducing carbon emissions in half by 2025. This solar energy infrastructure is one of the largest solar car port installations in the UK and will change the way the Council’s fleet operate to reduce cost and improve carbon efficiency.”

Image courtesy of Northumberland CC

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