How often does the sun shine on Yorkshire? With typical modesty, canny Leeds councilpersons may reckon the sun is the county’s gift to the cosmos.

Yorkshire’s largest city has opened Britain’s first predominantly solar-powered park’n’ride car park at Stourton, its canopies topped with 1.2MWp of PV modules over 480 parking bays, plus a 950 kWh battery. The ensemble is set to save as much as 471 tonnes of CO2e every year, assuming 2022’s rates of occupation.

Israeli technologists SolarEdge provided Stourton’s modules & inverters, 950kWh battery and EV charging infrastructure.  They promise 852 MWh of clean power every year. On-site use of the power includes the depot’s lighting, CCTV and heat for the waiting room.

By load shifting using the battery, grid import to the site is expected to be zero for most of the time.

With the storage set-up in operation, around 12% of the site’s generation will be exported to the grid.  The bulk will be stored, and used to help power the facility outside daylight hours.

Besides power, the solar canopies above Stourton’s bays provide shelter from the elements for Yorkshire shoppers.  The park’n’ride lies two miles south of Leeds’ city centre, next to the A61 and M621.

Two years ago, Stourton debuted solar generation in UK municipal parking, using clean power to re-charge electric shuttle busses that make the frequent 2 mile trip to Leeds’ shopping centres.

Stourton’s extension this month is part of Leeds City Council’s strategy to hit carbon zero by 2030, on the way cutting congestion & pollution in its centre.

The project was partially funded by the Department for Transport and with a grant awarded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Installers Evo Energy chose a SolarEdge DC-optimised system to compliment Stourton’s curved solar arrays. Conventional string inverters, Evo reasoned, would have struggled to overcome energy loss due to module-level mismatch.

Each pair of solar modules is connected to a SolarEdge Power Optimiser, enabling every module to operate at its maximum efficiency, regardless of its neighbours. Shading, uneven panel degradation and heavy soiling – all the enemies of old-style string arrays – are all thus avoided.

Optimising external aesthetics, nine SE82.8K and one SE17k SolarEdge inverters are located inside the terminus.  The configuration permits a touch-safe, non-lethal 1V contact with the canopies, permitting easy routine maintenance. A SolarEdge Firefighter Gateway allows the whole system to be shut down just as easily.

“This project is a sustainable example for other cities in the UK to follow”, commented EvoEnergy’s principal consultant Jonathan Roper.

“The Stourton site highlights how a project can positively impact a community, the local economy, and businesses throughout the city by enabling renewable energy powered transportation and enhancing the volume of transport links.

“It’s a great step forward in sustainable electrification of transport, while overcoming local grid limitations”.

Legislation in France now compels larger out-of-town supermarkets to install solar canopies above their parking bays.

In May British energy minister Graham Stuart and trade body SolarEnergyUK announced a purely voluntary, time-limited Solar Taskforce, supposedly incentivising the installation of more arrays above car parks and on roofs of commercial buildings.

No major commercial property owner is yet to be named among the Taskforce’s corporate members. The government-industry venture is scheduled to wind itself up in February, after only ten months of existence.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here