As Australia and the world move to renewable sources of energy, the solar car park is part of the future. And the future starts now! Domestic solar has been a part of the Australian residential landscape for over a decade now. Consequently, Australian home owners have been enjoying the benefits of solar for quite some time. Although this has been on a smaller scale, it highlights the impact that solar can have.
Solar has been significantly slower to take off in a commercial capacity. Commercial solar options are now widely available. However, as most buildings are rented by tenants the incentive to go solar has been much less. Now with increasing corporate focus on including renewables as part of green corporate responsibility, there is an increasing interest in the solar car park.
What is a solar car park?
A solar car park is an otherwise open car park that is covered in solar panels. The solar energy that is generated by these solar panels is then fed into the power supply for the building it is attached to. Alternatively, the energy generated can be returned to the grid. This is often the case if there is excess energy being generated.
Consider a solar car park attached to a busy retail shopping centre. The solar energy that is generated during opening hours will offset the power that is consumed. If the sun is still shining when the shopping centre is not using a significant amount of power, the energy generated is returned to the grid. This could be in the mornings before the centre is opened, on Public Holidays or at other times.
Basically, this provides a win win situation for the shopping centre itself.
Is there an optimal size for solar car parks?
The great thing about solar car parks is that they can be any size at all and still be worthwhile. Just like domestic solar panels, even a small system will make a difference. The solar car parks that the team from PV Structures have been involved in vary in size and energy generation potential.
A small example is the Old Spot Pub in South Australia. This development integrates seamlessly into a commercial rooftop solar system. Whilst doing this, it provides shade and protection from the elements. This is gladly received by the patrons of the pub while they are sampling the wares inside.
An example of a larger scale PV carpark project is Elizabeth & Edwardstown, also in South Australia. The scale of these projects is enormous, in fact, they are the biggest solar car parks in the southern hemisphere. Once again the dual-purpose nature of the project is what wins overall; a covered car park for shoppers and a power offset of the corporation.
What other locations could benefit from a solar car park?
Solar car parks are not limited to shopping centres. Local councils, state governments, schools and industrial precincts are also able to install a solar car park as part of their renewables strategy.
Transit hubs are a great location for a solar car park. The energy generated can offset the electricity used for electric trains and transit offices. In other countries, local governments have used solar car parks in common areas such as parks, council buildings and government schools; these then feed the generated electricity back into the grid. This not only provides environmental benefits, but the energy generated is metered in a way that it offsets the power bills of the whole community.
Solar Car Parks are not just a futuristic ideal, but rather a practical and realistic commercial solar option.
To find out more about our partner, PV Structures, head to their website at https://pvstructures.com.au/
At Small Sites, we love talking about the people we work with. PV Structures is one of those fantastic companies we are happy to call our friends.