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The University of Southampton

Research project: Solar Shaded Car Park Project

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The Solar Shaded Car Park project is commissioned by the King Abdulaziz University under the auspices of the King Salman Chair for Energy Research (KSCER) and the Vice‐presidency for Projects in collaboration with the University of Southampton.

This project aims to implement a demonstration programme encompassing an operational research and experimental analysis of how solar photovoltaics can be utilised and maintained as shading components in carports. The project is supported by researchers and engineers from Saudi Arabia and UK.

The collaboration of Saudi and British Engineers ensured that the installation of solar PV systems was completed within 48 hours with a large amount of work was carried out in the evening to benefit from cooler weather condition and safer operation with solar panel connections.

As an important part of the project, cleaning systems using water jets, air, and vibration motors have been installed and integrated into the car park structure. Understanding the scarcity of water in local environment, researchers of the project have designed cleaning schedules to only operate during evenings and have included water recycling units to collect water for reuse.

A series of tests were undertaken to observe the performance of the solar panels and the cleaning systems. After successful tests of the system water recycle components were installed to minimise the consumption of water for cleaning functions. LED lights were also installed to ensure a more comfortable and safer usage of the car park facility.



Alghamdi, A.S.; Bahaj, A.S.; Wu, Y. Assessment of Large Scale Photovoltaic Power Generation from Carport Canopies. Energies, 2017, 10, 686.


Reliance on fossil fuel-driven energy supply is a major contributor to global emissions. In order to stay within the Paris Agreement’s temperature rise limits, current and growing energy consumption will need to be significantly underpinned by deployment of low/non-carbon power generation. This work promotes power generation at the megawatt scale from solar photovoltaics (PV) systems deployed in untapped car parking areas, which are estimated to represent up to ~6.6% of the urban footprint within cities. The methodology developed is globally applicable to support PV development, including site selection and PV array configuration. It is underpinned by a case study in a university campus, which has a similar footprint as assigned in cities for vehicle parking. The methodology demonstrates that less than 1% of the available parking spaces are affected by shadows from surrounding buildings or vegetation. The work shows that by utilising such parking areas within the selected campus a PV installation with a capacity of ~36.4 MWp, which can generate ~66.2 GWh of electricity annually, would be feasible. Financial analysis based on multiple scenarios indicates that a 50% return on investment is achievable over 25 years at an export tariff of USD ¢4.5/kWh, which is commensurate with the latest granted bids for a similar export tariff. 

Related research groups

Energy and Climate Change
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