Special solar-powered car parks where electric vehicles can be charged are to be set up in Scotland as part of a multi-million-pound UK trial.
The consortium of energy experts behind the pioneering project is already considering several potential sites across the country, including council facilities, park and ride schemes, airports, offices and train stations.
The group has now secured million of pounds in funding for the scheme, which will use solar panels and battery storage to charge cars and buses.
Revolutionary vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology will also be employed at the hubs, allowing charged cars to feed electricity back to the smart grid where it can be used to power homes and businesses.
The team believes managed integration of solar PV, electric vehicle charging and V2G systems at car parks and transport hubs can help the country meet its green transport goals.
They say Smart Hubs with energy storage will increase the capacity for charging large numbers of electric vehicles without placing further pressure on the already strained national grid.
The schemes will also bring new income streams for car park owners, including local authorities, hospitals and retail centres.
It’s thought car manufacturers will also benefit, with access to fast, grid-friendly infrastructure raising consumer confidence in the electric vehicle market.
The demonstrator project will target early adopters of V2G, mostly in the commercial area, comprising six sites and 150 V2G-enabled electric vehicles.
The research will seek to identify accessible revenues for V2G systems in real-life applications, how static and dynamic storage can be integrated in a single site and the optimal power rating.
It is hoped the Smart Hubs Demonstrator trials will get under way later this year.
The project partners – which include demand response specialist Flexitricity, as well as Turbo Power Systems, Flexisolar and Smart Power Systems – are still seeking further sites to take part.
The Scottish Government has committed to phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2032 and the UK by 2040.
Current estimates suggest there will be around nine million electric vehicles on UK roads by 2030.
“Electric cars and buses are going to be the principal method of transport in just a few years,” said Dr Alastair Martin, chief strategy officer at Flexitricity.
“However, we know that the current grid system will only be able to cope if smart charging and grid management are adopted across the network. We now need to invest in smart technologies and change the way we operate power grids if we want to make the growth of electric vehicles a positive story for the UK.”
He added: “I believe smart vehicle charging will be the difference between the success and failure in reaching our electric vehicle ambitions.”