Use Car Parking Sites for Solar Farms (proposed by Cllr Fouweather, seconded by Cllr Miles)
Liberal Democrat member motion
Oxford City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019. Various initiatives have been proposed and the Council has made progress with the decarbonisation of Council owned social housing and leisure centres.
This proposal is that the case for installing solar panels over the car parks in the city is examined and a report prepared for Cabinet to consider at a future meeting.
A solar farm in this case would consist of solar panels mounted on a raised framework so that the majority of cars would be able to park underneath. Another benefit would be that cars would be protected from both bad weather and overheating due to sunshine.
The French government has recently announced plans to mandate that all car parks in France must have solar farms installed. The Bentley Car Company recently announced the installation of a solar farm at their plant in Crewe which will cover 1378 car spaces and generate 2.7 MW of power.
The benefit of this proposal is that it makes better use of non-productive land and demonstrates that the City Council is fully behind the push for Green Energy and Net Zero. It would contribute to the targets for increased PV generation across the County as defined in the Oxfordshire Energy Strategy.
Two of the City-owned P+R sites together total 2801 car spaces. This could generate at least 4.2 MW of power — enough for 600–800 average sized houses. If the other P+R sites are included then this rises to over 9MW. The Building Research Establishment estimates the capital cost per space at £900–£1400 /kWp.
There are other Council owned car parks which could be utilised in this way including those at leisure centres and public parks. Even a small car park could be a useful local source of PV energy and may be able to be implemented over a shorter timescale.
There would also be opportunities to extend the existing EV charging in sites using the power generated locally. The space for physical equipment needed for connection to the local electricity grid will need consideration as would other potential uses such as power storage, freight consolidation or tourist coach parking.
Therefore this Council requests that the Head of Corporate Strategy submits a report to Cabinet by the end of 2023 which:-
1) Examines this proposal to assess the feasibility of installing solar panels in various Council owned car parking sites around Oxford including Park and Rides.
2) Considers what alternative uses of existing sites will need consideration when assessing sites for use as a solar farm.
3) Explores alternative possibilities for funding the installation costs.
4) Considers the feasibility of the Council being the operator of the solar farm(s) and thus selling the electricity generated to energy companies.
5) Assesses the potential income stream to the Council from the solar farms once installed.
6) Reports on discussions with the relevant County Council officers about their P+R sites being included in this scheme.
 Acronym - Park & Ride
This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.