UKPN finds airport long-stay car parks could provide substantial grid flexibility

UK Power Networks’ Park and Flex study, has found that using long-stay car parks like those at airports could help power the grid.
Early research from the study has found that more than 1.3 million homes could be powered by filling up electric car batteries in long-stay car parks when energy is cheap and demand is low and injecting power back into the system at peak times.
The company said 4.3GW of flexible electricity demand could play a major role in helping London, the East and South East of England transition to a low carbon economy.
The study used advanced modelling alongside both UK Power Networks’ and energy specialist Baringa’s forecasts for the number of electric vehicles on Britain’s roads in the coming years.
Long-stay car parks such as airports were shown to offer increased benefits over shorter term solutions such as hotels or supermarket car parks, with a customer’s flight dates dictating the precise length of a vehicle’s stay, giving network operators greater insight into spare power or capacity they can call on at any time.
It is estimated £1.3 billion in flexible energy savings could be made by 2050 if rolled out across the 140,000 long-stay parking spaces in the areas UK Power Networks serves in the south and east of England.
Director of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks Ian Cameron said: “As more and more people begin to adopt green technologies, we’re able to innovate and explore tangible scenarios that could make a real difference on the path to Net Zero.
“Through Park and Flex, we foresee a world where dormant vehicles can be used as the building blocks for one of the UK’s biggest flex batteries. This dynamic battery, fuelled by thousands upon thousands of electric vehicles could play a massive role in creating a new green energy supply, and could do so without customers having to lift a finger.”
The Park and Flex project, which is being developed alongside Fermata Energy and energy consultancy Baringa, is supported by funding from Innovate UK’s Strategic Innovation Fund. As the study continues, it will seek to understand how the new vision could be rolled out nationally and identify the customer incentives needed to make it happen.
Tony Posawatz, CEO of Fermata Energy said: “With ramping sales of electric vehicles, gigawatts of energy storage capacity can be accessed with bi-directional (V2G) charging to support UK distribution networks during peak events.
“Airports have enormous public car parks and large electrical systems throughout. With thousands of vehicles parked for hours to days at a time, enormous value can be unlocked in key grid locations providing resilience and stability, while lowering costs. This first-of-its kind Park and Flex study will demonstrate the scalable benefits of V2G technology in public car parks for grid networks and consumers alike.”

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