Putting Parking Structures to Work With Solar Panels
The concept of solar parking structures is so sensible that it's bound to become a widespread phenomenon. At this point solar technology is rapidly improving and becoming integrated in our society quickly. Many companies throughout the US have implemented solar panels in one way or another. These solar panels are most commonly placed on the roofs of buildings, making use of space that is already regularly exposed to sunlight.
In sunny states such as Arizona where covered parking is a necessity, a new trend is catching on. Although it can be quite the investment, many companies and even some schools believe solar power is worth it and have installed panels on their covered parking spaces as well.
Benefits of Solar Parking Lots
Parking lots typically make their money from parked cars. But they can also make money from producing power, if they are equipped with solar panels. Not only does a solar parking lot reduce the strain on the conventional power grid, but it can also store power for future use and deliver power to several structures.
As electric cars take hold, a cycle of energy can develop between solar panels and these environmentally friendly cars. It can also help further afield. Since electricity demand is usually highest when the sun shines the brightest, these panels can help serve peak demand times. Solar panels that cover a parking lot also provide shading for cars in the day and lighting at night from stored solar power. For both homeowners and commercial business owners, installing these solar panels can bring cash rebates and federal tax credits.
Google has been an early adopter of solar parking lots and they have proven how efficient it can be, providing 30 percent of the power for its headquarters. Since Google, which has invested in several other renewable energy projects, is the most popular website on the internet, it's not a stretch of the imagination to say that Google is playing a major part in popularizing solar.
Another big technology company, Intel Corporation, has installed solar panels in their parking lots. In 2011 they increased their productivity and produced 85% of their estimated electricity use. They have nine solar installations, which collectively generate more than 3.8 million kilowatt hours per year.
One of the biggest advantages to solar parking lots is that they can provide backup power to communities in cases of emergencies. The more solar can reduce the demand of fossil fuel-powered plants, the less pollution will be released in the atmosphere. Solar parking lots can be particularly helpful to malls, schools and hospitals while solar carports are ideal for residential homes. Some of the places currently benefitting from solar parking lots are Kona Airport in Hawaii, the VA Hospital in Temple, Texas and Anaheim Hills Golf Course in California. There are also several smaller projects throughout the United States and beyond.
Improving Solar Technology
In the 21st century solar is the most rapidly improving technology on the planet. A decade ago the technology still had a lot of limitations and questionable value. Now that the cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically and developments are constantly making solar more efficient and powerful, it does not seem like wishful thinking that solar parking structures can begin to appear everywhere. The U.S. Military has already been using solar lighting for the past few decades.
One of the biggest reservations consumers had about solar panels last decade was their awkward eye-sore appearance. But even that problem has been resolved now that solar panels can be designed for aesthetic value that matches roofs. The main two driving forces that are accelerating solar technology are environmental concerns and existing high costs of fossil fuels. Solar equipment also is much easier, cheaper and quicker to install than traditional grid equipment and involves much less wiring.