Leeds opens solar powered Park and Ride site 14 September 2023

Leeds City Counci Park and Ride Leeds City Council opens UK’s first solar powered all electric park and ride site. Image credit: EvoEnergy

Leeds City Council has opened a solar powered Park and Ride in Stourton, serviced by electric buses that link the site to the city centre.

Stourton is said to be the first Park and Ride site that is powered with a battery storage system, with emissions being reduced by approximately 471,000 KGCO2e in 2022.

The project comprises a 1.2MWp SolarEdge solar system, smart EV charging infrastructure and a 950kWh battery that allows solar to power the site outside of daylight hours. The system is expected to generate 852,000 kWh of electricity a year. The PV panels are located on carport canopies that also provide shelter above parking spaces. Solar energy generated by the system also powers the depot’s lighting, CCTV, and heating in the waiting room.

With the battery storage in place, around 12% of the energy produced by the site will be exported to the grid, with the remainder stored and used to help power the facility outside of daylight hours. By load shifting using the battery, grid import to the site is expected to be zero for most of the time.

As part of the project, solar installer Evo Energy chose a SolarEdge DC-optimised system to compliment the curved solar arrays, where string inverters would have struggled to overcome energy loss due to module-level mismatch. Each pair of solar modules is connected to a SolarEdge Power Optimiser that is claimed to enable each module to operate at its maximum efficiency, thereby minimising the effect of any shading, uneven panel degradation or heavy soiling. Traditional strings would restrict the module performance to the output of the lowest-performing module on the string. This means that energy production will be higher in future years too as solar modules age at different rates, exaggerating the string effect.

For the efficiency of electrical distribution, nine SE82.8K and a SE17k SolarEdge inverters are located in the terminus building. With integrated SolarEdge SafeDCTM technology, the inverters are designed to reduce the system to a touch-safe 1V to allow routine maintenance or in the event of an emergency. The system also includes the Solaredge Firefighter Gateway, which will shut down the whole system when either the fire alarm is activated or a E stop button is pressed.

The project is a key part of Leeds City Council’s strategy to hit carbon zero by 2030 and reduce congestion and pollution in the city centre. The project was partially funded by the Department for Transport and a grant awarded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Ben Spencer

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