AN environmental scheme to fit two giant canopies covered with solar panels onto the roof of Leicester’s Newarke Street car park has been completed.
The ambitious project has seen around 360 sqm of solar panels installed as part of the city council’s ongoing work to reduce its carbon footprint and provide renewable energy to power the machines, lights, cameras and other facilities at the car park, as well as other local buildings.
The panels will produce enough energy to power 20 homes for a year and will help to make carbon savings equivalent to around 19 tonnes.
In total the scheme has cost around £267,400, and has been funded jointly by the city council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
It follows the council’s successful bid for more than £4million of match-funding from the ERDF to support a range of projects that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Other ERDF-funded schemes involve cycleway schemes including London Road and the more recent Horsefair Street/Pocklingtons Walk work, as well as 750-sqm of solar panels installed at the new St Margaret’s Bus Station.
Elsewhere, solar panels have been installed at the city council’s highways depot at Leycroft Road, Beaumont Leys, in a £95k scheme capable of saving over 51 tonnes of carbon.
Leicester deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke said: “This is part of our work to invest in low-carbon, energy-efficient measures for our buildings, but is also part of a wider move across the UK and further afield towards creating solar car parks like this.
“They enable electricity production in spaces which are open to the air and sunshine, as well protecting parked vehicles from the weather. In addition, they can help with electric vehicle charging in places like this where people coming into the city centre might park their cars for long periods of time.
“With energy prices currently so high, this is a sound investment in generating our own clean energy, using buildings and infrastructure that we already operate.”
Just across the English Channel, the French Senate has recently made it a legal requirement for all existing and new car parks of 80 spaces or more to be covered by solar panels as part of its drive to increase the production of sustainable energy.
The new solar panels and canopies cover the roof of Newarke Street car park, with the existing parking spaces retained beneath them.