cheese-eating surrender-monkies, er, French will show us the way (again):
French parking lots could soon generate as much electricity as 10 nuclear power plants, after a law is expected to win final passage on Tuesday requiring canopies of solar panels to be built atop all substantial lots in the country.
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The plan makes France a world leader in efforts to cover as many surfaces as possible with solar panels, a step advocates say will be crucial in broader plans to phase out fossil fuels in the coming years. The expansion could add as much as 8 percent to France’s current electrical capacity.
The cost of solar panels continues to drop, and they are an increasingly competitive source of energy both for individual households and bigger consumers. But one big challenge is finding enough space for them to generate electricity in bulk. That’s why policymakers have parking lots in their sights: They are big and unbeautiful, and covering them with solar panels doesn’t take away from anything else.
The big county building in Santa Clara California did this about a decade ago, and it was terrific. In addition to generating electricity, it also provided much-appreciated shade during the multi-week 90°+ summer heat, and the blacktop stayed relatively cool, too, so you didn’t climb into a convection oven at the end of a multi-hour meeting. I was actually in my car in the shade of the electric panels listening to President Obama’s heart-felt press conference following the Sandyhook shootings and it was comfortable.
The other thing: it was fast to assemble. I think the county had it installed and running in less than a quarter of a calendar year.
It’s a great idea to put solar arrays in places where it’s feasible. Even the Pentagon has plans to make solar power a big thing, and even in states where there is a dearth of sunlight (and I’m talking Orygun winter here) there is enough sunlight to make it feasible…
We have a bunch of those here, and a LOT of our schools now have nice shady ramadas covered in solar panels.
I do wish more businesses would start putting these in; payback for electricity use is a lot quicker than it used to be.
Of course here at work the University parking department wouldn’t sign off on any sort of scheme like this unless they could charge more for parking under the handy shade.
This seems to be SOP now in Santa Clara county. Educational and governmental entities have solared over their parking lots. Now the malls need to follow suit.
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