Exploring airport car parks' potential in powering the grid
According to a new study by UK Power Networks, electric vehicle (EV) drivers who use long-stay car parks could potentially power an entire city with green energy while offsetting their parking fees. The research, known as 'Park and Flex', suggests that more than 1.3 million homes could be powered by charging EV batteries in long-stay car parks during times when energy is cheap and demand is low, such as sunny days or windy nights. This excess power could then be injected back into the system during peak times using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.
The study indicates that the potential of 4.3GW of flexible electricity demand could play a significant role in helping London, the East, and South East of England transition to a low carbon economy. The research used advanced modeling 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.
The study found that long-stay car parks, such as those at airports, offer more benefits compared to shorter-term solutions like hotels or supermarket car parks. The duration of a customer's flight can determine the length of a vehicle's stay, providing network operators with valuable insight into spare power or capacity that can be utilized at any time.
If implemented across the 140,000 long-stay parking spaces in the areas served by UK Power Networks, the study estimates that flexible energy savings of £1.3bn could be achieved by 2050. Ian Cameron, director of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks, envisions a future where dormant vehicles can be used as building blocks for a large-scale flex battery, powered by thousands of electric vehicles. This battery could play a significant role in creating a new green energy supply without requiring any action from customers.
The Park and Flex project will continue to explore how this vision can be implemented nationally and identify the necessary customer incentives to make it a reality. The project is being developed in collaboration with Fermata Energy and energy consultancy Baringa, with support from Innovate UK's Strategic Innovation Fund.
Tony Posawatz, CEO of Fermata Energy, highlights the potential of using bi-directional (V2G) charging in airports, which have large public car parks and extensive electrical systems. With thousands of vehicles parked for extended periods, there is significant value that can be unlocked in key grid locations, providing resilience and stability while lowering costs.
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