UK airport car parks and their role in the energy transition
【Summary】A groundbreaking study in the UK has found that long-stay car parks, such as those at airports, could be used to power the grid and help transition to a low carbon economy. The study estimates that more than 1.3 million homes could be powered by electric cars' batteries when energy is cheap and demand is low, injecting power back into the system at peak times. The potential of 4.3GW of flexible electricity demand could play a major role in the country's energy transition.
Parking your car at the airport and paying the parking fee is a common occurrence for many people. However, what if this simple act could contribute to powering an entire city with clean, green energy? UK Power Networks' Park and Flex study has revealed the immense potential of using long-stay car parks to help supply electricity to the grid.
The initial findings of the study show that more than 1.3 million homes could be powered by charging electric car batteries in long-stay car parks during times when energy is cheap and demand is low, such as sunny days or windy nights. The excess power stored in these batteries can then be injected back into the system during peak times.
This flexible electricity demand has the potential to provide 4.3GW of power, which could significantly contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy in London, the East, and South East of England.
The study utilized advanced modeling techniques and forecasts from UK Power Networks and energy specialist Baringa to estimate the number of electric vehicles that will be on Britain's roads in the coming years.
Long-stay car parks, particularly those at airports, offer greater benefits compared to shorter-term solutions like hotel or supermarket car parks. The duration of a vehicle's stay in these car parks is determined by the customer's flight dates, providing network operators with valuable insights into available spare power or capacity.
If implemented across the 140,000 long-stay parking spaces in the areas served by UK Power Networks in the south and east of England, it is estimated that £1.3 billion in flexible energy savings could be achieved by 2050.
Ian Cameron, Director of Customer Service and Innovation at UK Power Networks, envisions a future where idle vehicles can be used as the foundation for one of the UK's largest flexible batteries. This dynamic battery, powered by thousands of electric vehicles, has the potential to revolutionize the green energy supply without requiring any effort from customers.
The Park and Flex project is a collaboration between UK Power Networks, Fermata Energy, and energy consultancy Baringa. It is supported by funding from Innovate UK's Strategic Innovation Fund. As the study progresses, the aim is to explore national rollout possibilities and identify the customer incentives necessary to make this vision a reality.
Tony Posawatz, CEO of Fermata Energy, highlights the significant energy storage capacity that can be accessed through bidirectional (V2G) charging, especially with the increasing sales of electric vehicles. Airports, with their large public car parks and extensive electrical systems, can unlock tremendous value by utilizing these parked vehicles to provide resilience, stability, and cost reduction to the grid. The Park and Flex study will demonstrate the scalable benefits of V2G technology in public car parks for both grid networks and consumers.
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