When people talk about X million target solar roofs, I sometimes interject that I really want solar car ports and solar cell covered parking lots. I’ll be happy with the roofs being white reflective, with good skylights, and rain capture. When it comes to office buildings and stores, I would prefer the solar cells to be used to cover the parking lots.
And, the Rocklin, California, Police Department took just this approach, with a 143kW solar energy system and carport structure.
This system will have multiple benefits and is expect to save money while cutting carbon emissions.
“Ultimately, the power savings generated by the PV system will pay for the parking shade structures and produce over $1 million in avoided power cost during its lifespan; all the while, reducing the need for other, less environmentally-friendly power generation sources. Several other ‘green’ systems were installed in the police facility project, but the PV system is by far the best return on our investment.” – Mark Siemens, Chief of Police, Rocklin Police Department
Well, there is another real averted cost that makes solar carports sensible investments in office/mall parking lots Cars sitting out in the sun for all day boil up. The driver gets in and, first thing, cranks up the air conditioning. Not comfortable in the boiling temperature and a killer for fuel efficiency, and an increaser of pollution.
Now, think about carporting that parking spot. No longer in Nevada or California or … sun, the car won’t be at 130 degrees at 5 pm and the air conditioning won’t have to work as hard, the driver will be more comfortable, better fuel efficiency, and lower pollution. Car port … starting to sound like a winner to me.
“When we considered covered parking structures, the photovoltaic system was a clear stand out and an easy choice,”
In other words, once you’re going to invest in covering the parking spaces, you might as well put in the solar — the incremental cost between a solar and non-solar carport structure is quickly paid back through the generated electricity.
Thus, cover the parking lots … and cover them with solar.