A new study conducted by UK Power Networks has revealed that electric vehicle (EV) drivers using long-stay car parks could help power entire cities with green energy. By filling up EV batteries when energy is cheap and demand is low, and then injecting power back into the system at peak times using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging, the potential of 4.3GW of flexible electricity demand could play a crucial role in transitioning the United Kingdom to a low carbon economy.
The study focused on long-stay car parks, particularly those at airports, which offer increased benefits over shorter-term parking solutions such as hotels or supermarkets. The duration of a customer’s flight can determine the precise length of a vehicle’s stay, allowing network operators to have greater insight into spare power or capacity that can be utilized at any time.
If this approach is implemented across the 140,000 long-stay parking spaces in the areas served by UK Power Networks, 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, stated that this vision could transform dormant vehicles into one of the UK’s largest flex batteries, providing a significant green energy supply without requiring any effort from customers.
The project, known as Park and Flex, aims to explore how this concept can be scaled nationally and identify the necessary customer incentives to make it a reality. It is being developed in collaboration with energy consultancy Baringa and Fermata Energy, with support from Innovate UK’s Strategic Innovation Fund.
Tony Posawatz, CEO of Fermata Energy, highlighted the potential of airports in this endeavor, considering their large public car parks and electrical systems throughout. With thousands of vehicles parked for extended periods, the car parks could unlock enormous value in key grid locations, contributing to grid resilience, stability, and cost reduction.
This study not only showcases the potential for EVs to support the transition to a low carbon economy, but also highlights the role that parking infrastructure can play in facilitating a greener energy supply for cities.
– Park and Flex research by UK Power Networks
– Energy specialist Baringa’s forecasts for the number of electric vehicles