ParkPower feasibility study

 

Project name: ParkPower feasibility studyThe Kelpies at Falkirk
Location:
Five green spaces in Falkirk and North Lanarkshire
CARES funding: £47,000, matched with contributions from project partners
Project duration: September 2019 - March 2020
Technology: Multiple technologies considered including power generation, heat generation, storage, EV charging and hosting of energy infrastructure such as pipes and cable routes.

Background

ParkPower is a programme led by Greenspace Scotland with partner organisations Falkirk Council, North Lanarkshire Council and Falkirk Community Trust. It explores the national potential to use urban greenspaces to support our transition to a decarbonised and decentralised energy system.

As part of the project, a feasibility study helped identify low carbon energy options and their potential viability for five greenspace sites, the majority of which were public parks. The project team appointed Locogen as its preferred contractor to undertake the work. The first phase assessed a wide range of technology options at each of the five sites, while the second phase identified the four most promising opportunities to investigate in more detail.

Project aims and objectives

The main objectives were to deliver two reports; the first phase report to look at short and long-term green energy generation options for the selected greenspaces, and the phase two report to cover more detailed investigations of the best options.

Outcomes and achievements

22 projects were initially identified, which covered a range of timescales, complexities and innovation levels. Many were scalable and replicable, and four of the projects were taken forward to the second phase, based on their site specific appeal and how easily they could be replicated.

Lessons learned

Potential benefits were identified in the following areas:

  • Greenspaces can act as low carbon energy generators, flexible energy stores and effective energy infrastructure hosts.
  • The sub-surface beneath greenspaces offers considerable potential for heat collection (from both ground and water sources) using heat pumps.
  • Surface water in lochs and rivers in greenspaces also offer significant potential for heat generation using heat pumps.
  • Ground and water sources above and below surfaces could store heat over short and longer periods.
  • The ‘soft dig’ nature of greenspaces mean transporting costs would be less when using district heat networks, which could utilise existing green infrastructures.
  • Some greenspaces, or parts of greenspaces, could be re-purposed for electricity generation using solar PV, and linked to roads and car parks to install EV charging infrastructure.

Some technologies were particularly suited to greenspace locations that could deliver higher revenue with relatively short pay-back periods, including:

  • ‘In transit’ EV charging near major roads or junctions; or
  • Low-carbon heat supply to nearby high-energy demand buildings (such as residential flats or leisure centres) that offered high cost to residents, for example by electricity.

In 2024, climate law and government policy will limit natural gas heating for almost all buildings, meaning that new approaches to low carbon heat supply will need to be adopted. There are various technologies that can address this challenge, including heat pumps and district heat networks, both of which may depend on the availability of nearby greenspace.

Finally, it’s likely that future energy systems will need more space within urban areas to host new infrastructures. One of the green spaces explored in this project is being used to route district heat pipes to seven high rise residential blocks, a nearby secondary school and a business park.

The report highlights our urban greenspaces as valuable assets for hosting low carbon energy. Local energy masterplans will need to consider and identify suitable greenspaces and their potential for energy generation and as routes for new transmission infrastructure.