Solar Canopies — Parking Lot Power
Have you ever parked in a big parking lot while the summer sun shines down and turns your vehicle into an oven within minutes? Perhaps while visiting the mall for a mid-day shopping spree or arriving at the train station for a trip into the city. Whatever it may be, it can often be annoying and can cause damage to vehicles. There is, however, a powerful way to turn this small shopping trip annoyance into a huge free energy generator using solar canopies.
What are solar canopies? Well, the most basic definition is a collection of solar panels on stilts. It’s no different than putting up an umbrella to avoid getting wet from the rain, only in this case it is on a much larger scale, and instead of avoiding the rain, solar canopies collect tons of energy from the beaming sun.
There are many pros when it comes to implementing solar canopies in large parking lots that collect a lot of sunlight. Obviously they would be generating a lot of renewable energy, but they would also be shielding vehicles from overheating and getting damaged especially by the violent summer sun. In addition to this, they are not wasting space by doing so. In fact, some may say they are doing the exact opposite. Besides giving people a place to store their vehicles and argue about where to park, parking lots are not necessarily the most productive environments. With solar canopies in the picture, parking lots can even be seen as pseudo power plants!
Of course there are costs with this idea, namely the fact that a large amount of solar panels covering an expansive area can be very expensive. Along with that, solar panels don’t last forever unfortunately, and would have to be replaced every 20 to 30 years or so. These costs, along with the standard maintenance procedures and public safety regulations, can make the idea repelling for many. This is understandable to a certain degree, but with large commercial areas, these businesses generally have the funds to pay for the installation costs, and the money they would save in the long run on energy is notable, and with community solar becoming more prominent, these companies may also be obligated to sell excess energy to consumers.
In the end, there is a lot of potential with the idea of solar canopies. Some countries like China and Australia have already embraced this idea and are making breakthroughs with solar energy opportunities, including the implementation of solar canopies in large parking lots. Perhaps as renewable energy continues to become more prominent, the idea of parking lot power plants will as well.