Work starts on UK’s first ‘solar carport’ in a multi-storey car park

Gabriel Wondrausch, Founder, SunGift, (right) on the structure of the ground-breaking solar car port
Gabriel Wondrausch, Founder, SunGift, (right) on the structure of the ground-breaking solar car port

SunGift Energy has crane-lifted the first ‘solar carport’ frames onto the roof of a municipal car park – the first such installation on a multi-story car park in the UK.

Exeter council awarded the contract to Devon-based SunGift following a competitive tender against local regional and national companies.

Once the frames are completed, the 540+ solar panels will then be installed. More will then be lifted onto the roof of the John Lewis car park.

Previously, cars that parked on the top levels were ‘out in the open’, but when the work is completed they will be covered by solar panels, which will generate 285,227 kWh per year, and save more than 150 tonnes of CO2.

Gareth Walton, Solar Specialist, SunGift Energy, said: “Solar car ports in a situation of this complexity have never been done before in the UK.

“The top floors of the car parks are perfectly placed for making the most of the sun’s free energy, as we’ve been able to optimise the angles of the solar panels on the car park deck. This means that the panels will generate the maximum amount of energy, while providing a benefit to the car parks. It is a great example of where solar can be used to deliver dual benefits and it’s also an indication of where the industry is heading.”

Detailed planning and designing of the system has been critically important, with specialist mounting equipment being designed and used to ensure the structural integrity of the car parks.

Walton added: “This project allowed us to do what we do best – use our years of knowledge and experience working on specialist projects to produce a bespoke system that meets the requirements of both the customer and the site.”

“While the roofs of multi story car parks are the perfect location for solar, there are also many potential problems, so it requires an extremely high level of technical expertise.”

The carport project will use SolarEdge inverters, which will help maximize the power that the solar panels generate and the income that the council receives from the Feed-in Tariff.

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