Solar Parking Lot Canopies

Lynne Kiesling

This EcoGeek post addresses a pet topic of mine: if we are going to invest in renewable electricity generation technologies, we should start by coupling the energy-related benefits with other benefits, particularly at this point when renewables are not yet price-competitive.

Solar parking lot canopies are a great example of this idea. I hate parking in exposed lots or on the top of a parking deck, because then the car is overheated and uncomfortable when I return to it; moreover, I then turn it on and crank the air conditioning to attempt to get it comfortable as quickly as possible. Solar canopies can provide both electricity for the facility and shade and protection for the parked cars; they also reduce the “heat island” effect of dark asphalt parking surfaces.

And, as the post notes, as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles proliferate in the mass market, there’s another possible revenue stream: customers can charge their PHEVs from your solar panels … and they may be willing to pay more than your opportunity cost to do so.

These other benefits and possible revenue streams change the benefit-cost calculation on the solar investment, and should be taken into account.

2 thoughts on “Solar Parking Lot Canopies

  1. This is absolutely right on. It’s a problem that has concerned me for some time. When you read about how we’re all going to have electric vehicles, you have to wonder how we’re going to transfer the equivalent of a gas tanks’ worth of energy without a drastic increase in generation capacity. The answer from many quarters is: you’ll do it with your household PV! But, if I’m at work with my car during the time the sun is up, how is that going to work?

    The solution has to include solar (or wind) power wherever cars are found during the day, i.e. shopping malls and workplaces.

  2. If we all transfer to electric cars then what happens to all the oil? Do we just leave it alone? Or do we keep drilling and storing it for an emergency? And also have you seen the new design for a solar panel canopy? It looks just like a cobra, kinda scary but it works!

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