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The best idea in a long time: Covering parking lots with solar panels

The best idea in a long time Covering parking lots with solar panels The Washington Post


America is a nation of pavement. According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, most cities’ surfaces are 35 to 50 percent composed of the stuff. And 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots. That has a large effect: Asphalt and concrete absorb the sun’s energy, retaining heat — and contributing to the “urban heat island effect,” in which cities are hotter than the surrounding areas.

So what if there were a way to cut down on that heat, cool down the cars that park in these lots, power up those parked cars that are electric vehicles (like Teslas), and generate a lot of energy to boot? It sounds great, and there is actually a technology that does all of this — solar carports.

It’s just what it sounds like — covering up a parking lot with solar panels, which are elevated above the ground so that cars park in the shade beneath a canopy of photovoltaics. Depending of course on the size of the array, you can generate a lot of power. For instance, one vast solar carport installation at Rutgers University is 28 acres in size and produces 8 megawatts of power, or about enough energy to power 1,000 homes.

Solar carports have many benefits, ranging from aesthetics (yes, the things look very cool) to subtler factors. Like this: Not having to return to a hot car after spending three hours at the mall or a sporting event in the summer. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, being able to park in the shade in the summer is actually a substantial contributor to increased vehicle fuel efficiency, because it saves having to cool your car back up by cranking the air conditioner.

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You're right, solar car ports are an excellent idea. What's the downside? Is there a downside?

idiots who can't use their eyes/mirrors or brains to park who will inevitably run into the poles.  We have solar parking at my job.

Self driving cars to the rescue!

Laughing.  When we do go to Palm Springs, they have carport covers.  They completely under-size all the parking spaces, so big SUVs take up a space and a half and bad drivers hit the poles with the cars and doors all the time.   The best design would be an overhang design with no poles on the front or sides.   Or even better....

You're right, that's a way better design. Way, way better. 

Self driving cars will work great 25 years when fully adopted and older cars are dying and leaving the streets, can't wait too sleep on my way to work.

You really think it will take 25 years?

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