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Full throttle to a low carbon future

Full throttle to a low carbon future

As the impact of climate change becomes ever more acute, the need to decarbonise our transport systems, buildings and economies is becoming more urgent. Michael Figures, Business Development Projects Officer, Perth and Kinross Council, spoke to APSE Direct about how his Council’s Low Carbon Transport and Smart Energy Network has the potential to reduce total energy costs, carbon emissions and generate income for the authority. 

Over the last few years the effects of climate change have become ever more apparent as the calls to do something about it become louder and more urgent. We are seeing the acceleration of severe weather events around the world as global temperatures continue to rise.

In Britain, to help tackle climate change, the UK Government has announced its intention to prohibit all new combustion engine vehicles by 2035, with the Scottish Government setting a target date of 2032 
to phase out the need for new combustion engine vehicles. These ambitious targets have made the need to increase the provision of low carbon infrastructure and facilitate the up-take of low carbon vehicles more urgent. To give context, at present there are approximately 15,000 electric vehicles 
(EV’s) currently operating on Scottish roads and millions of combustion engine vehicles. Within 15 to 20 years that equation needs to be reversed. To have the best chance of meeting these low carbon targets, the up-take of electric vehicles should be promoted and provisioned with easily accessible supporting low carbon refuelling infrastructure.

However, there is a need to support the provision of low carbon transport infrastructure by sustainable means. If all energy required to support an expanding Electric Vehicle market is to come from the national grid, the cost of grid re-enforcement work to accommodate this expansion would be significant. Estimates for this work in Scotland alone are in excess of £500m. 

It is therefore important that EV charging provision is met in a sustainable way. Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) has developed a project with the support of the European Regional Development Fund and Tay Cities Deal to do just this.

The Broxden Low Carbon Transport Hub project at the Broxden Park and Ride site on the western edge of Perth aims to create an innovative, low carbon transport hub at a key central node on the Scottish motorway network. It would be the first building block of the Perth Innovation Highway linking Perth West developments, the hub site and Perth City Centre. The intention of the project is to broaden the range of refuelling facilities and transport modes available and to provide sustainable travel options to local residents, businesses and visitors to the city and region. The aim is to combine on-site generation of renewable energy and a battery storage system with an energy management platform, to sustainably support and efficiently manage the energy flows required to support the expansion of EV charging points.

PKC will be deploying an additional 28 EV changing points at Broxden to bring the EV charging provision at the site to 40 EV charging spaces. These will accommodate a range of EV charging speeds to meet the needs of a variety of EV usage patterns. From the relatively quick Rapid EV chargers as well as long-stay 7kW chargers to encourage users to leave their vehicles outside the city and use active travel options or public transport to complete their journeys.

Solar carports will be added to generate on-site renewable energy, which will be held in a battery storage unit, with future plans to include a wind turbine to give better all-year coverage of generation of renewable energy. This renewable energy generation and its storage will be managed by an energy management platform that will efficiently manage the energy inputs and outputs to sustainably support the EV chargers.

The renewable energy generation and battery systems to be installed at Broxden would also provide energy assets that could be incorporated into a smart energy system. PKC is currently working on the development of smart energy systems as part of a Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund / Innovate UK funded project, the Perth-SEN (Smart Energy Network) project. This has the aim of reducing the Council’s energy costs, reducing the council’s carbon footprint and developing income streams from the utilisation of battery storage assets.

All large public sector bodies such as councils, NHS, Police, MOD and Water Authorities have a similar set up. They all manage a diverse portfolio of land and properties dispersed over a geographic area. The aim of the Perth-SEN project is to manage the flows of energy within the PKC estate in which renewable energy production, energy storage and consumption are integrated and coordinated to optimise the usage of electricity and maximise its value. The smart energy system would have the ability to generate, store, use and trade energy at distance, between unconnected council sites within the PKC estate.

The Broxden-Low Carbon Transport Hub project and the Perth-SEN project have the potential to provide a model of sustainable EV charging hubs and an energy management system that can sustainably support EV charging infrastructure and reduce total energy costs, carbon emissions and develop a new income stream for public organisations.

Both the Scottish and UK Governments have acknowledged the increasing strain on our existing energy infrastructure from our growing demand for energy. As well as the need to decarbonise our economy to help tackle climate change, both Governments and Ofgem have stated their commitment and support for the development of smart, flexible energy systems to help address these issues. The expansion of the low carbon transport market (primarily from electric vehicles) will continue to push up the demand for energy for many years to come. Projects such as this can help increase energy generation from local renewable sources, decrease energy demand from the grid, help decarbonise transportation and buildings and have the potential to relieve some of the financial pressures on hard-pressed public bodies.

We face a difficult future requiring radical change in how we generate and use energy. We still have much work to do to reduce the effects of climate change and will probably have to do much more than we currently envisage if we want to achieve our Perth and Kinross NetZero ambitions. 


Michael gave a presentation on this topic at the APSE Scotland Renewables and Energy Efficiency Advisory Group on 27 August 2019. The presentation is available to download here.

For further information about how your council can become more energy efficient, please visit the APSE Energy web hub - the unrivalled online resource for all things municipal energy-related. 


Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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