With electric vehicles on the horizon, it’s going to take a lot more electricity generation to keep them charged. Sure, utilities could add more generators. But most are dirty, and they’re expensive. Now comes one of the most obvious of ideas: turn parking lots into urban solar farms.
We all want covered parking when we go to the work or the mall to keep our cars from becoming solar collectors themselves. And all that asphalted space is essentially wasted. So the answer that seems to be popping up around the world is to cover the lots with a roof of solar panels, generating electricity from sunlight that can either go directly into an plug-in electric cars parked in the lot, or fed back into the grid.
Envision Solar in La Jolla, Calif., is one company giving the idea a try. It’s already in demonstration at Dell Computer’s facility in sun-baked Texas. A solar parking lot is also being tested as a prototype oat the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. The facility uses its solar for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Gizmodo says the installations can pack some punch. The solar parking lot at Dell generates 130 kilowatts of electricity.