Leeds launches UK’s first solar-powered park and ride

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Under efforts to decarbonise the transport sector and to reduce congestion and commuting times, the UK’s first solar-powered park and ride has been launched in Stourton, Leeds.

The £38.5 million ($53 million) project comprised the installation of solar panels and a battery energy storage system for powering some 26 electric vehicle charging stations.

The system will be used by zero-emissions buses that will depart the station every ten minutes. First West Yorkshire will operate the project under a contract awarded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).

The site will provide secure cycle storage, 1,200 vehicle spaces, 26 EV charging points and will cater for drivers travelling to and from the city centre from the southeast area of Leeds, Wakefield and beyond – via major routes.

By using sustainable solar energy to charge buses (compared to petrol and diesel which need to be extracted, processed and transported), the project is expected to help reduce the transport costs for users. The project is a move by the council to encourage the use of public yet smart transport systems to reduce the environmental impact of the transport sector.

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The project is part of the £270 million ($371.8 million) Connecting Leeds programme delivered by WYCA and Leeds City Council.

Commenting on the launch of the project, executive board member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, Councillor Lisa Mulherin said: “After declaring a Climate Emergency, the Connecting Leeds scheme contributes improvements to cleaner air, greater public space and reliable public transport.”

The city council will also connect consumers to low-carbon and smart district heating systems as part of the programme.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, added: “Being able to launch the UK’s first solar-powered park and ride is a massive achievement for Leeds and a major boost to both the local environment, economy, and the city’s public transport infrastructure. This is step forward in tackling the climate emergency and our wider aim of transforming the Leeds City Region into a net-zero carbon economy by 2038.“

Other smart transportation projects launched to move the UK closer to its 2050 net-zero goal include the London city mayor’s establishment of Britain’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker buses network in June 2021.

The project is Leeds’ third ride and park station.