When they first started appearing, it was all the rage, but slowly it is becoming the norm and a practical business decision. Solar carparks are popping up all over the country as companies realise they can save money whilst providing better shelter for customer’s vehicles.
It's a simple logic, solar carparks are carparks that utilise the roof space or car shelters for generating electricity. On top of being able to produce power, they provide better protection against hail damage and other extreme weather than traditional tarps.
Recently the largest solar car park in Australia was built, alongside another in Brisbane and many more are in the works. Larger carparks are able to generate enough electricity to power not only their own facilities but also the surrounding retail stores. This means that carparks are doubling their business, and in the process becoming part-time energy providers.
However, this phenomenon is not exclusive to carparks. Not to long ago we covered a story about solar windows, as well as other stories that talked about floating solar arrays assisting hydro electric dams. It seems that slowly but surely, as it becomes much more affordable to do so, the world is being covered in a thin layer of energy producing silicon.
While this may seem strange to begin with, it makes perfect sense. Solar energy is the near polar opposite of high powered fossil fuel plants. While a single power plant can create enough electricity for thousands of homes, Solar is distributed and in some ways a democratised source of energy.
Solar farms take up huge amounts of space, and given their distance from cities, lose efficiency when transporting power. So why not start adapting our suburban and urban areas to accommodate the next best thing in energy production. It would not be surprising if in 20 years, most buildings implement solar into their exterior design in some way. Solar windows allow for transparent energy production, while building materials like roof tiles are being manufactured to double as solar panels.
While current solar panels create certain aesthetic limitations given their very unique and recognisable black mesh appearance, the future is a blank canvass in terms of seamless solar integration.
All things considered, it simply makes much more sense to generate power where you use it, and even more sense to generate power using the Sun. Rather than a technology that combines man's two great yet seemingly quite primitive discoveries, electrical current and photovoltaics. Solar carparks are simply the beginning of a lengthy process of making the switch to renewable energies.
Considering also that Electric Vehicles are predicted to replace internal combustion engines in around 15-30 years depending on who you ask, it would seem wrong relying on electricity generated by fossil fuels. On top of that it would be a very satisfying feeling, parking your car, plugging it in, and letting your car recharge while you visit the local cafe. So forget Silicon Valley, we are slowly becoming a Silicon World.