Green light for huge green energy project in Portsmouth 

Solar PV and battery installation project at Lakeside North Harbour business park, expected to be among largest solar parking canopy projects in UK.  

Construction work began this week and is expected to be completed by autumn next year. We’ve reported on a number of solar projects recently, but what’s striking in this case is the scale of the project – and the benefits to be accrued.

Computer-generated image of the planned solar canopies at Lakeside North Harbour business park

Computer-generated image of the planned solar canopies at Lakeside North Harbour business park, photo courtesy of Portsmouth City Council

Roof-mounted solar PV arrays comprising 1,820 panels will be installed across five buildings, with a further 7,105 solar panels installed over existing car parking spaces to create ‘solar canopies’. The site will also feature charging points for electric vehicles (EVs), with infrastructure to enable installation of further charging points as demand increases.  

In total, the size of the solar PV system is 4.462 megawatts (MWp), with 910 kilowatts (kWp) from the five buildings and 3,552 kWp from the canopies. It is expected to generate more than 4m kWh per year – the equivalent energy needed to power 1,300 average-sized, three-bedroom homes for 12 months. In doing so, the site should save the equivalent of 860 tonnes of CO2 every year.    

What’s more, a 2MW battery will be installed to store any excess energy produced by the solar panels. This will be controlled to benefit the local area – for example, at times of higher energy prices, battery power can be discharged to Lakeside to minimise consumption from the national grid. The battery will also be able to export excess energy to the grid. 

Installation of the solar panels, solar canopies, 2MW battery and EV chargers will be carried out by Custom Solar, a Mitie company, working with Portsmouth City Council’s in-house energy services and building projects team, who will fund and manage the project.   

Cllr Kimberly Barrett, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Greening the City, says: ‘We are constantly aiming to improve our solar power in Portsmouth, and to begin working on possibly the largest solar canopy project in the UK is a great step in coming closer to our goal of Net Zero by 2030 and using greener energy in the city.’  

Simon Bateman, Manager at Lakeside, adds: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for Lakeside businesses to benefit from the council’s 2030 net zero target at no direct cost to them.  This solar project will enable us to have a 100% green electric supply for all 55 businesses at Lakeside. The environment is a fundamental core value at Lakeside – from creating the right atmosphere for our occupier community, to driving sustainability and efficient use of our valuable resources.’ 

Gary Sucharewycz, Sales Director of Solar and Storage Solutions at Custom Solar, says: ‘This latest solar project at Lakeside North Harbour continues Portsmouth City Council’s trailblazing approach to decarbonise and diversify energy sources in the city which will also benefit the many businesses based at the business park. With this unique project we’ll be bringing together expertise from across Mitie to deliver a broad range of technology solutions, including rooftop solar and solar car ports, battery storage, LED lighting, electric vehicle charge points and electrical infrastructure services. We’re extremely proud to have been awarded this contract and look forward to continuing our support of the Council and its drive to achieve its net zero goals.’ 

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