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Ground-breaking Solar Project at Portsmouth’s Port Reaches Exciting New Stage

Ground-breaking Solar Project at Portsmouth’s Port Reaches Exciting New Stage

The installation of a ground-breaking solar and battery system at Portsmouth International Port has reached a major milestone with 888 solar panels having now been switched on.

Portsmouth City Council’s in-house energy services team has managed the scheme with the support of Portsmouth International Port’s engineering department.

Specialists contractors Custom Solar began the installation in February 2022. The installation incorporates roof-mounted solar panels across a number of buildings, a large battery, and solar canopies.

The solar panels mounted on rooftops around the port have now been switched on and are generating 400kWp of renewable energy that can be used to reduce consumption at the port or can be exported back to the grid.

The project breaks new ground for both the council and nationally as it is the first UK port to have solar canopies as well as a 1.5-megawatt hour battery installed as part of the renewable installation. The battery will produce enough power to run a typical home for 4 months. It will be able to capture green power that would otherwise be exported from the site, which can be then used at the port at another time, such as to power lights at night.


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Cabinet member for Climate Change and Environment at Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Kimberly Barrett, said:

“It is the council’s priority to support clean growth. This major milestone on this innovative project means that the project is on-track to begin generating clean energy later this year. When operational, it will reduce annual emissions by 239 tonnes at this busy site. We’re committed to take positive action to tackle climate change, and this cut in emissions will boost our ambitions to reduce carbon emissions across the city to net-zero by 2030”.

The solar panels that have been switched on are just a third of the total number that have been installed over the past year. There are 2,660 solar panels in all which when switched on will provide around 35% of the port’s energy needs. This will be a big step forward for Portsmouth International Port’s ambition to be the UK’s first net zero carbon port. The port also recently won the ‘Commercial Solar and/or Storage Project of the Year’ award at Solar & Storage Live 2022 Awards.

Gary Sucharewycz, CEO of Custom Solar, said:

“We are delighted to have won the award for commercial solar and storage project of the year. To have been recognised at the main industry awards for such a prestige project that the team have developed from concept, is a great reward for everyone involved. We have worked with a fantastic client in Portsmouth City Council to have successfully delivered the project through many challenges. We see this as a great case study for how solar and storage can be deployed in major operational environments, with solar car port canopies set to play a big role in clients generating their own power and assisting their net zero ambitions to be realised”.

When fully commissioned in January 2023, the 1.2-megawatt peak system will be the largest solar and battery installation to date across the council’s portfolio of renewable generation systems. The new battery will work alongside a previously announced battery storage pilot, which will balance services to the national grid and storing power during lower pricing periods. It is estimated that in peak conditions 98% of the electricity consumed by the port could come from the combined solar and battery installation when completed.

It's all part of an integrated approach that will also help the port offer shore power for smaller ships, without having to take extra power from the local electricity grid.

The solar canopies also offer another benefit as well as generating carbon-free power, they can provide shade for cars waiting to board ferries allowing them to say cooler for longer without having to run their engines.

Jerry Clarke, pilot, and senior project manager at Portsmouth International Port added:

“The port is owned by the people of Portsmouth, so we have an obligation to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment, whilst reaching the ambitions set out in our 20-year Masterplan. Combined with other sustainability initiatives, it will help us achieve our ambition of reaching net-zero carbon by 2030 and becoming one of the UK’s first zero emission ports by 2050”.

The work on this installation is the most recent in a series of solar and battery projects being managed by the council’s in-house energy services team. The team procured Custom Solar after a competitive tender exercise through the council’s recently established PV and Storage framework.

Gary Sucharewycz, CEO of Custom Solar, said:

“We are incredibly proud of the progress that has been made on this ground-breaking project. It has been a perfect amalgamation of solar innovation and engineering ingenuity. The project will certainly be a landmark moment for UK ports as Portsmouth International Port will be one of the first to install a solar carport canopy system. We are extremely excited to finalise and showcase the project in its entirety. “

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Janet Richardson

Janet is an accomplished director and writer at The Renewable Energy Hub. Janet has worked at a senior level at a number of publishing companies and is an authority on renewable energy topics. Janet is passionate about sustainable living and renewable energy solutions, dedicated to promoting eco-friendly practices and creating a vibrant community of eco-conscious individuals and businesses seeking sustainable energy solutions.


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