Nottingham to Develop UK's Largest Urban Solar Canopy

Nottingham City Council is set to develop the UK's largest urban solar power canopies at two of its Park & Ride sites, generating enough energy to power 479 homes a year.

Councillors have approved plans for the array at the Queen's Drive Park & Ride site. A second solar canopy, covering the Colwick Racecourse Park and Ride site will be built at the same time, with completion expected by April 2015.

The Queen's Drive site alone will generate £121,000 a year for the Council, with £25,000 worth of electricity being exported to the national grid, £63,000 earned in Feed In Tariffs (FIT) and £33,000 in energy savings. Colwick will provide an additional £95,000 annual income.

The solar canopies, in effect a roof over the parking spaces, will be mounted on a supporting structure with the panels themselves tilted to gain the maximum amount of the sun's energy. At Queen's Drive there will be 4000 panels in the array and a further 3000 will be mounted at Colwick. Together, the expanse of the panels will be 10,500 sq metres - large enough to cover Notts County's football pitch one and a half times.

The Queen's Drive solar energy canopy alone will increase the amount of solar power produced on the City Council's own property by 400%, generating more than 1.0Gwh of renewable energy and saving 600 tonnes of carbon every year.

Located at a key gateway location to the city, next to the A52, it will be a regional statement for Nottingham's ambitions and will be seen by 81,000 motorists and bus users a day.

Nottingham boasts one of the largest electric bus fleets in Europe - increasing to 50 in the coming years - and up to 50% of their fuel requirements will be provided through the solar array at the Queens Drive Park & Ride site through electric charging points where the buses can quickly charge during the day.

The City Council is developing this solar renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, to save money on its energy use and to raise an income from electricity FIT and exporting energy to the national grid. The Council has already provided solar panels on 3,254 out of the 3,580 homes in Nottingham that have registered solar panels. It also has built ten out of the 39 commercial solar panel arrays registered in the city.

Councillor Alan Clark, City Council Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability said: "Harvesting power from our urban energy farms means that we can gather a large amount of sustainable energy for the city. This not only boosts our reputation as being the UK's most sustainable and innovative energy city, it will provide locally sourced energy for local people.

"There are another seven park and ride sites available and many other opportunities, such as car park roofs, that will provide some of the green energy to be supplied by our new Nottingham Energy Supply Company. The energy at Queen's Drive will provide 50% of the power needed for the new electric bus fleet and the urban energy farms will also provide a much needed jobs boost for the city. It is all about making sure Nottingham has secure energy supplies in the future, providing excellently priced energy and looking after the city's wider environment."

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