EVs on charge - pictured from rear during sunset with cloudy sky

UK Power Networks study uncovers huge grid-powering potential of airport car parks

Nic Ryan

The first results of UK Power Networks’ Park and Flex Study have revealed the enormous potential of using long-stay car parks, such as those at airports, to help power the grid.

Early research in the study has found that more than 1.3 million homes could be powered by filling up electric vehicle’s batteries in long-stay car parks when energy is cheap and demand is low - and returning that power back to the system during peak times.

The study used advanced modelling alongside both UK Power Networks’ and energy specialist Baringa’s forecasts for the number of electric vehicles on Britain’s roads in the coming years.

With airport parking, details of a customer’s flight dates can dictate the exact length of a vehicle's stay which gives the network operators greater insight into spare power or capacity.

An estimated £1.3 billion in flexible energy savings could be made by 2050 if the initiative were to be rolled out across the 140,000 long-stay parking spaces in the areas UK Power Networks serves in the South and East of England.

“As more and more people begin to adopt green technologies, we’re able to innovate and explore tangible scenarios that could make a real difference on the path to Net Zero,” said Ian Cameron, Director of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks.

“Through Park and Flex, we foresee a world where dormant vehicles can be used as the
building blocks for one of the UK’s biggest flex batteries.

“This dynamic battery, fuelled by thousands upon thousands of electric vehicles could play a massive role in creating a new green energy supply, and could do so without customers having to lift a finger.”

The Park and Flex project, which is being developed alongside Fermata Energy and energy
consultancy Baringa, is supported by funding from Innovate UK’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

“With ramping sales of electric vehicles, gigawatts of energy storage capacity can be accessed with bi-directional (V2G) charging to support UK distribution networks during peak events, “ said Tony Posawatz, CEO of Fermata Energy.

“Airports have enormous public car parks and large electrical systems throughout. With
thousands of vehicles parked for hours to days at a time, enormous value can be unlocked in key grid locations providing resilience and stability, while lowering costs.

“This first-of-its kind Park and Flex study will demonstrate the scalable benefits of V2G technology in public car parks for grid networks and consumers alike.”

Find airport electric vehicle charging, as well as charge points along your route, in the Zapmap app or web map.