ParkPower - understanding the green energy potential of greenspaces

Read our Introduction to ParkPower for a more comprehensive overview.

Over the next 20-30 years Scotland’s energy landscape is likely to change dramatically as we seek to become less dependent on fossil fuel based energy sources. The implications of such a far reaching transformation are huge. Our towns and cities, as hotspots of energy demand and distribution infrastructure, are likely to face unprecedented modification. As part of the ParkPower project we are seeking to understand some of the impacts of these changes particularly in terms of the potential opportunities they might offer our greenspaces.  As such, while we acknowledge the financially challenging environment for many green energy projects at this time, we are not constrained by short-term thinking.  We are focused on long-term strategic thinking on the basis that change is inevitable.

We are developing a data-driven model using a Geographic Information System (GIS) to undertake an opportunity mapping process to assess the ‘natural viability’ of sites across a local authority portfolio of greenspaces. This will utilise the Ordnance Survey Greenspace data layer and is based on matching long-term demand with the ability to supply green energy.  Most green energy technologies are being considered including solar PV, wind, hydro, CHP, heat pumps, geothermal, solar thermal, battery storage and electric vehicle charging.

We are also looking at the potential for green energy projects on a park-specific scale. This will enable park managers and community groups to identify energy use scenarios commonly found in greenspaces. We will also suggest appropriate technologies that should be considered.  We will propose suitable project development strategies and organisational/ financial structures to maximise the likelihood of a successful project.

The intention is that ParkPower, or the potential of greenspace, will become a key component in a Council's Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy, contribute to Local Energy Masterplans and ultimately help meet targets in sustainability and climate change action plans.

ParkPower projects are not only designed to make parks more financially self-sustaining but also have the potential to reduce our carbon footprint, tackle fuel poverty, buffer Scotland against rising fossil fuel prices and provide educational opportunities. ParkPower is underpinned by a ‘circular energy economy’ concept based around further decentralisation of the current energy system – heat and energy is produced locally and used locally with income invested back into the local community and park management.

Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland said: 
“With parks and greenspace budgets under-pressure, we’ve been working with colleagues in Councils and Friends groups to develop and pioneer new approaches to generate income from and for our parks in ways which do not impact adversely on the public’s use and enjoyment of parks. ParkPower will enable us to take a strategic approach to identify parks with the most potential to generate energy, as well as opportunities to supply energy beyond the park to schools, hospitals, shopping centres and other consumers. We’re delighted to receive support from the Rethinking Parks programme to develop ParkPower.”

ParkPower is supported as one of five Rethinking Parks Prototyping projects supported by National Lottery Community Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Nesta - read more

If you want to know more about our ParkPower plans, are interesting in getting involved or supporting the project, please get in touch [email protected]