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Bentley plans to install UK’s largest solar carport at Cheshire manufacturing site

Bentley Motors is planning to construct the UK’s largest solar carport – a significant 2.938MW in size – on an employee car park adjacent to its manufacturing facility in Crewe.

Planning documents submitted to Cheshire East Council in August this year outline the proposals, which will comprise roughly 11,300 solar modules sheltering more than 2,000 car parking spaces on land situated to the west of the facility.

Planning documents suggest that solar developer Solarcentury has designed the system; however the company did not wish to comment on the plans.

Cheshire East Council is to meet next week (23 November 2016) to discuss the plans, with a target decision date set for 30 November.

Bentley Motors would not comment on the plans when contacted by sister publication Solar Power Portal, but if the automotive giant received planning permission – and pressed ahead with them – the installation would comfortably become the UK’s largest solar carport system to date.

It will also further Bentley’s strong commitment to solar as an on-site generation technology, having previously set records for commercial rooftop solar.

In March 2013 Lightsource completed a 5MW installation on the roof of the manufacturing facility, which became the country’s largest rooftop solar array at the time of completion. More than 20,000 modules were fitted to provide as much as 40% of the car manufacturer’s peak energy requirement.

A rough extrapolation of those figures would equate to the electricity generated from the carport catering for roughly 24% of Bentley’s peak demand, meaning that – when finished – the car maker’s total solar output could generate almost two-thirds of its electricity during peak hours.

While popular overseas, solar carports have yet to take off in the UK despite a number of notable projects having completed in the past year. Nottingham City Council has been particularly strong backers of the installations, including one at the council-maintained Harvey Haddon Sport Village leisure complex.

In September Clean Energy News’ local authority expert Stephen Cirell discussed at length the potential for solar carports to benefit authorities and businesses which back them.