Introduction: Solar Car Park
Many of us, especially those interested in a sustainable way of life, surely dream of the day we can say goodbye to the car entirely. To say goodbye to the emissions, the long commutes, and the never-ending hunt for parking spaces, only to come back to a boiling-hot vehicle that’s been cooking under the sun. However, we don’t live in that world, and with the way things are going, we’ll likely never say goodbye to the car (although we’re likely going to have far more electric vehicles zooming around compared to the gas-guzzlers of old). This is why, for the time being, we have to make sure that cars are as environmentally friendly as possible, down to where we park them. That’s why it might be important to invest in solar car parks. Solar car parks are simple – take a normal parking lot, and install solar panels above the parking spaces.
How much parking is out there, anyway?
To have a solar car park, you must have some sort of parking lot, or even just a single residential parking space. So, you might be wondering – how many parking lots are out there across Australia? How many solar panels could potentially be put up?
Unfortunately, we don’t have that exact information for the whole of Australia, but the City of Melbourne has good information and we can also take a look at the data available for cities in the US. While the US tends to have a more car-centric culture, it can still be a worthwhile example to examine. As a worst-case scenario, some cities in the US have half of all their ground space taken up by car parking, while other studies have shown that in five US cities, “car storage has become the primary land use.” Melbourne has data that shows that there are 217,090 parking spaces in inner Melbourne alone, which doesn’t even account for the 5.1 million square meters of off-street parking (good for 12% of the total floor space in the area).
In short, that means that are potentially a lot of parking lots and spaces that could have the space to install solar panels.
How much electricity can a solar car park generate?
Well, as always when it comes to solar panels – it depends. Solar panels get more efficient year after year, so these numbers are subject to change. On top of that, not all parking lots and parking spaces are the same size, so we’re using an estimate there. With all those caveats aside, though, we can still see that a solar car park is an attractive option for generated some extra electricity.
So, with all that, we’re looking at about 3kW worth of solar panels for each parking spot. Naturally, if your business has a large parking lot, we’re talking about a lot of electricity generation.
Why solar car parks, anyway?
Beyond the obvious – solar panels generate electricity whenever there’s sunlight, save money, and reduces your reliance on the traditional electric grid – there are a lot of reasons to install a solar car park.
Parking lots are really a natural fit for solar panel installations. Any parking lot demands a lot of space, space that typically can’t be used for anything other than cars. That’s why it’s good to build up to install solar panels.
People also don’t like to leave their cars parked out in the sun, and Australia gets a lot of sun. Why not make a covering for those cars that also generate electricity? A good solar car park will do both – provide a covering for open parking lots while also generated electricity.
Speaking of shelter, when it does rain, the typical titled roof design of a solar car park ensures that water drains off. Nobody wants to get wet just from walking from their office building to their parked car.
Solar panels are also a good symbol of a commitment to solar energy and a more sustainable future. Customers are more likely to trust that you care about the environment if you actually have sustainable technology like solar panels installed on the premises.
Finally, as solar technology improves and becomes more efficient and effective, a solar car park can also be used to charge electric vehicles without relying on the grid. Electric cars are clearly the way of the future, and these EVs often have auxiliary systems that drain the battery even when they’re not in use. With a good solar car park system, it’s easy to imagine they can be used to keep EVs fully charged.
A solar car park is an easy way to install solar panels in areas that are difficult to be used for anything else. While cars may not be completely sustainable and environmentally friendly yet, that’s all the more reason to make sure the places they park are.