Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Solar Parking Lots Sound like a Great Idea. Why Aren't They Catching On?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Solar Parking Lots Sound like a Great Idea. Why Aren't They Catching On?

Article excerpt

Of the total surface area in a typical city, 35 to 50 percent is pavement, according to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Of the total pavement, about 50 percent is parking lots and 40 percent is exposed parking lots.

Researcher Haley Gilbert at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory said that these percentages result in an environmentally damaging cycle of heat energy.

"It's amazing how hot these pavements get and how we've let them cover most of our urban surfaces, because dark pavements absorb almost all of the sun's energy, the pavement surface heats up, which in turn also warms the local air and aggravates urban heat islands."But there is a solution: covering parking lots with solar panel roofs. Such technology would reflect heat from the sun and use the sun's energy to power buildings and electric cars. Therefore the pavement would absorb less heat, causing the air to cool down.

"Carports reclaim empty space that we just use for putting our car in," said Panos Bitarchas, CEO of Solarcube to Solar Power Portal. "With carports we think we have a multipurpose product that can cover our cars, generate renewable electricity and can change the view of a grey, empty space into a nice architectural function. It's a completely different approach but we feel that car parks can be used to generate electricity locally for heavy users."

On an individual basis people would save on fuel costs, particularly in the summer, because their cars would be protected from the sun's rays and they would not have to spend energy on cooling their cars down.

Apart from the direct environmental effect, solar carports are having, they also have inspired individuals to change their behavior to be more environmentally conscious.

The sporting goods store REI built a solar carport at its Framingham, Mass. location, a first for the company, back in 2012. …

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