Considering a large percentage of the country is covered with pavement, especially in parking lots, solar panels are becoming the new topic of interest. Asphalt pavements absorb energy from the sun, creating more heat in what is called the “urban heat island effect” (when cities have higher temps than surrounding areas.) Living in Arizona, we know the struggle of our cars sitting in the sun for long periods of time and the dreaded thought of getting back into our even of a car and blasting the air conditioning to cool it down. A way to cut down on the heat in parking lots, cool down cars that are parked in these paved lots, all while generating energy would be a game changer, Luck for us this technology exists and it’s called solar carports.

This new technology would create a shaded canopy in parking lots and decrease the amount of heat being absorbed from the sun by turning it into energy. Although the thought of not having to get into a hot car is very appealing, the real benefit of these solar carports is that they actually contribute to increased fuel efficiency. This is due to saving from not having to blast the air conditioning in an attempt to cool down the car.

It sounds great, so why don’t these exist in more areas across the country? Well, cost is the number one factor limiting the implementation of these solar carport and has significantly slowed the roll out of this technology. It is the most expensive type of solar project because of the need for more engineering, more steel and labor. Despite the financial problem, more and more solar carports are popping up in states that have the financial incentives to support the development, including California, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland.

In the future, we hope to see more of these solar carports in order to benefit both our cars and asphalt pavements in parking lots, as well as the renewable energy they create.