Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

We've created a solar panel car park to reduce our carbon footprint

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

We've installed solar panels directly onto the road surface of our Thorn Turn highways depot car park. The energy from these solar panels will be used to light, heat and power the depot.

The solar panels, which have been laid in partnership with infrastructure contractor Colas Ltd, can generate up to can generate up to 16,000kW of electricity per annum.

Vehicles will still be able to drive directly on the panels, in the same way as a regular road surface, with the panels generating power through sunlight at the same time.

The panels will reduce carbon dioxide emissions, helping us to reduce our carbon footprint and support our aim for the depot to be run completely on renewable energy. It’s one example of how we're working towards becoming net zero by 2030 as detailed in our sustainability plan.

This is the third ADEPT Live Labs trial, where we're piloting three renewable energy projects, as part of the £22.9 million ADEPT Smart Places Live Labs Programme. The three schemes focus on capturing and reusing solar, kinetic and thermal energy, and were secured following a successful £1.05 million bid made to the Department for Transport.

Read about how we're piloting these new innovations.

Solar energy trial attendees

Left to right: Tom Price (Central Bedfordshire Council), Jack Bowers (Central Bedfordshire Council), Martin Heeley (Ringway Jacobs), Nathan Kirwan (Central Bedfordshire Council), Councillor Ian Bond (Central Bedfordshire Council), Councillor Steve Dixon (Central Bedfordshire Council), Martin Garner (Colas), Paul Mason (Central Bedfordshire Council), Iain Macdonald (Colas), Peter John (Colas), Jonathon Baker (Colas)

This solar car park follows the successful thermal energy trial, also at Thorn Turn car park, where we installed five geothermic probes that extend 150 metres into the ground. The geothermic probes respond when the temperature drops to freezing by using thermal energy to de-ice the car park. This enables vehicles to continue operating and saves money on gritting salt. The heat is contained in an on-site geothermal storage unit and can also be used to heat the depot, saving on energy costs.

Councillor Steven Dixon, our Executive Member for Sustainability and Transformation, said:

I am delighted we're part of this exciting and innovative trial. The green energy created using the panels will be stored, with the intention of using it to power our highways depot.

Having seen the installation, I am really looking forward to seeing how this solar trial will work. Our aim is to run the depot purely on renewable energy, this will help save on our energy bills and make our building more sustainable.

Our next step – along with Cranfield University – will be looking at the results of the three trials to consider how we could branch out further across other parts of Central Bedfordshire and into our other buildings. We are committed to doing our bit for the planet.