Europe’s first solar car park with carbon-friendly construction to open for public use

8 March, 24
3ti®, the UK's leading designer, installer, funder and operator of Solar Car Parks (SCPs) is installing the first large-scale SCP in Europe to be constructed from sustainable Glulam timber beams and Glass-Glass solar panels.

3ti®, the UK’s leading designer, installer, funder and operator of Solar Car Parks (SCPs) is installing the first large-scale SCP in Europe to be constructed from sustainable Glulam timber beams and Glass-Glass solar panels. Opening to the public in April, the new SCP at Wiltshire Council’s Five Rivers Health & Wellbeing Centre is a significant leap in maximising the lifetime sustainability of solar installations and showcases several advanced technologies that revolutionise the construction, efficiency and visual appeal of SCPs.

The new SCP structure is made from Glulam, renewable, recyclable wood laminations bonded together to offer a natural alternative to steel or concrete. The engineered timber affords significant advantages over structural steel; it is three times stronger and a third lighter, and uses only a tenth of the energy it would take to produce an equivalent steel beam, contributing to a more sustainable building process. The material has minimal environmental impact from its production, is highly repairable, and is an excellent biofuel at the end of its life, further minimising waste.

As part of the construction, 3ti has used special Spirafix™ ground anchors to secure the SCP structure, without using conventional concrete bases or steel piles. This achieves significant carbon savings, speeds up the installation process, is more durable and can be recycled or properly disposed of once the anchors reach the end of their lifecycle.

The solar installation at Five Rivers comprises three gullwing solar canopies covering 70 car park spaces, with a combined total capacity of c.220 kWp. The leisure centre will use 100% of the solar generation on-site, which will contribute approximately 10% of overall electricity demand at the site, saving around £50,000 a year on electricity bills. In its first year, the Five Rivers SCP is expected to generate 186MWh of electricity, enough to drive 679,856 miles in a modern EV, saving 36 tonnes of carbon emissions – the equivalent of planting nearly 600 trees and powering 50 homes.

The canopies are fitted with transparent Glass-Glass solar panels from German manufacturer, Solarwatt®. The panels offer high efficiency and long-term yields thanks to their bifacial technology, which means solar energy is captured on both sides of the panel increasing total energy generation. The solar cells are embedded in a highly durable Glass-Glass composite protecting them from challenging environmental and mechanical stress, including snow and hailstorms, and are ammonia and salt mist resistant.

In addition to its large scale SCP, Five Rivers recently became the first leisure facility in the UK to install 3ti’s award-winning Papilio3® pop-up solar car park and EV charging hub. Papilio3 is built around a recycled shipping container, and can be installed in under eight hours. It can fast charge 12 EVs at 7, 11 or 22kW simultaneously, ideal for a range of destinations with longer dwell times, removing the reliance on carbon-intense and costly ultra-rapid charge points. Pre-fitted with a range of innovations and safety features, including motion lighting, CCTV, advertising screens and full accessibility for wheelchair users, Papilio3 can be rented on a monthly basis from 3ti.

Philip McMullan, Senior Technical Lead on Major Energy Projects at Wiltshire Council, said: “We have invested heavily in sustainability to achieve our 2030 carbon neutral goals. The new solar installations at Five Rivers will help reduce our carbon footprint and support the local community with the transition to zero emission motoring by strengthening the county’s EV charging infrastructure.”

Tim Evans, Founder & CEO at 3ti, adds: “Our job is to champion workplace and destination EV charging to promote a ‘charge where you stop’ mentality across the UK, while supporting customers to achieve their sustainability goals. Better EV charging infrastructure at destinations with long dwell times – offices, hospitals and leisure facilities like Five Rivers – will encourage greater EV adoption rates; it’s refreshing to see Wiltshire Council adopting such a forward-thinking approach, and we are honoured to play a part in their sustainability vision.

“We are constantly evolving our SCP products and are proud to feature these innovative new designs, construction materials and techniques at Five Rivers. Introducing these features means we can offer better durability and versatility than conventional materials and significantly reduce carbon emissions generated across the entire product lifecycle. This installation marks a major milestone on our journey to supporting customers and society as a whole; we will continue to work with facilities around the UK to roll out installations to support future generations and ‘leave something better behind®’.”

For more information on 3ti’s SCPs and Papilio3, please visit: 3ti.co.uk

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