05 April 2011

Solaire's Parking Canopies, a Cool Solution to Hot Lots

Solaire's Premium parking canopy in New Jersey
One of the coolest exhibitors at PV America 2011 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia should have been here two months ago during the Philadelphia Auto Show: Solaire Generation.

If you're like me you've probably thought that parking lots in corporate and commercial office parks are an untapped opportunity for solar electricity generation.

Solaire has a simple and elegant solution and, yesterday, the company announced it has completed the largest corporate parking lot project, 3.6 megawatts, in the country for a Fortune 100 corporate office campus in central New Jersey.

According to a company spokesperson, Solaire's parking canopy supports more than 210,000 square feet of solar panels, 3.6 MW, and covers more than 1,300 parking spaces. The total system is made up of 25 structures, each with an average length of 200 feet and a 35-foot wingspan.

Unlike other parking canopies I've seen, including those from San Diego's EnvisionSolar and New Jersey's SunDurance Energy, Solaire's panels form a contiguous canopy and have a dual-incline design generating electricity equal to the annual energy consumption of 340 U.S. households.

This 1.1 MW installation covers 450 parking spots.
And, as pointed out by the company's reps, the canopies offer an integrated decking and gutter system that protects people and cars from snow and ice.

They fail to mention the canopy also provides shade on sunny days, which makes for a cool solution.

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