301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


At the Hybrid Energy Innovations conference in New York City in April, a representative from Solaire Generation explained how its solar carport installations could turn a parking lot into a power plant while providing an attractive service for its customers in the form of shade and shelter for their vehicles.

With a little additional engineering, the double-cantilevered structures could also function as stylish gargoyles, channeling rain and meltwater from the dual-inclined array canopies through a downspout in the central columns into a water storage and treatment system beneath the parking lot. Outside a Brooklyn Whole Foods market, such an installation offers premium parking for customers while generating electricity and serving a water management system for the building’s non-potable water applications - otherwise known as toilets.

John Handy, federal business development manager for REC Solar, points out that a solar carport is not just an electricity-generating plant; it is also a value-add for the people who have to park in that lot. If you look at a stadium, for example, you could perhaps use the solar shaded parking as premium parking spaces and charge extra for them. Any place where people go to spend money, they charge to park. Why not get them to pay extra for parking under a canopy?

Certainly, the inclination to use covered parking over spaces exposed to the blazing sun have been well documented. Scott Wiater, president of Standard Solar, tells of a 700 kW solar carport project the firm deployed several years ago at a community college in Maryland. The customer wanted to use the portion of the parking lot that was farthest away from the buildings for the installation. What they found after Standard Solar built the carport was that those were the premium spots.

“Even though they were farther away, the shade that they provided was considered a premium - so those spots filled up first,” Wiater says.

Dual-use technology has an appealing elegance, particularly when both purposes are equally useful, desirable and beneficial. Solar carports have this appeal. One possible issue is with the name. Many jurisdictions are picky about what percentage of an installation is devoted to solar for it to qualify for a tax holiday or incentives. For this reason, some developers prefer the term “solar shade structure” to carport.

Whatever works.














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