Solar-covered parking lots could offer multiple benefits


Analysis from Yale University has found that more than one-third of the state’s electricity could come from solar-covered parking lots.

Adding this potential to Google Project Sunroof rooftop’s solar data increased the availability of solar siting to roughly 85.5% of the state’s electricity provided solely from solar carports and rooftops.

The authors examined only parking lots with at least 100 standard-sized parking spaces, and covering a minimum area of 29,400 square feet. Those criteria cut the number of potential sites to 16,900; later filtering lowered the total still more to 8,416. The authors then spot-checked 100  sites, and designed solar power plants for them. They speculated that, on average, 35% of the chosen sites were good candidates for solar panels.

The authors found that the final 8,416 sites across the state could generate 9,042 GWh of electricity within their first year of operation. The total capacity of these sites was 7,021 MWdc of solar power.

Priced at $3.00 per Watt to install, the solar canopies would generate approximately $21 billion in construction activity.

The report was funded by social justice and clean energy group People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE). In addition to the technical analysis, the report also found that a majority of the parking lots were located in areas that were either low income or non-white.

Building solar power in low-income areas offers multiple benefits beyond simply generating kilowatt hours. One benefit would be increasing job development in areas adjacent to people looking for local employment. A second might be that local generation of clean electricity could potentially allow for shutting down of gas power plants, which tend to be located in low-income and non-white communities.

Earlier analysis showed that solar power could power 100% of the energy and electricity in the United States using a relatively small amount of land. Additionally, research suggesting that getting to 80% of our electricity from wind+solar is relatively straightforward.

The knowledge that we can get 85% of all electricity from solar power on already developed rooftops and carports alone should be a huge positive for the environmental aspects of solar power.

And, just maybe, optimistic solar salespeople should reach out to the Yale authors to ask about their list of 8,416 sites, which are waiting for a cold call and a proposal.

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