One application of solar panels we’ve seen grow into a popular trend are “solar carports,” or solar systems that take advantage of the large amount of space over a parking lot or parking building, generally unused and ideal for absorbing solar energy. Unlike agricultural solar farms, solar carports can easily be installed in more urban areas, and never required extra lots or unused land. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of these commercial solar energy solutions in California, and if this project may be right for your business.
1. Lot Owners Can Realize Significant Savings
Commercial solar installations in California can both power utilities for the business and provide extra energy for the electric grid. This allows owners to significantly lower energy bills and save money over time, while making energy bills more predictable.
Along with these direct savings, this type of solar installation can provide other monetary benefits once it is running. The extra generated electricity can be fed into the electric grid and can also generate SRECs (solar renewable energy certificates), which can be traded on markets to bring in extra revenue. Owners can also choose to install solar storage via deep cycle, rechargeable battery arrays so that electricity can be stored at peak operation hours and used later even when the solar panels aren’t as active. All these benefits can also help companies meet internal carbon footprint or sustainability goals.
As always, Coldwell Solar can help explain and guide organizations through these options to find the most cost-efficient setup and the best ROI for the installation.
2. Installations are Easy and Efficient
Carports are a very efficient use of space for solar systems, since they can be mounted high enough to allow vehicles of all sizes to pass through the lot or park there without getting in the way. Minimal renovations are required to mount solar panels this way, and solar systems can adapt to the size and shape of the parking lot without trouble. This is even more advantageous if an organization was previously considering a solar installation but wasn’t sure there was enough room the property to install one.
3. Parking Lot Users Appreciate Solar Carports
Companies concerned about customers can rest easy – solar carports have benefits for parking lot users as well, especially when it comes to the shade that solar panels offer parking spaces, keeping vehicles out of the sun and drivers more comfortable. In harsher weather, solar panels can even keep rain and snow away from vehicles, which can make a parking lot look very attractive in the winter months (and in freezing conditions, it can make a parking lot safer to traverse by reducing the amount ice buildup).
Customers may also look more favorably on a brand that shows a clear dedication to sustainability energy, so it’s also a method of improving customer loyalty or even generating new business.
4. Maintenance is Simple – and May Reduce Other Costs
Today’s solar panels are made with durability in mind and can easily handle the elements while resisting damage from storms. Panels are also designed to stay efficient in the presence of dust, and unlike more agrarian installations, solar carports don’t face as much dust and debris in the first place. Periodic maintenance can check the panels for any structural issues and clean them if necessary, so they continue to stay in peak operating conditions.
Also, it’s important for owners to consider additional cost savings on other types of maintenance. If a solar carport is protecting a parking lot from rain, ice, and similar weather, then the parking lot itself will need less maintenance and fewer repairs or renovations over time.
5. Incentives are Available to Help Cover Project Costs
Commercial and industrial solar in California can also benefit from incentives that help offset initial project costs. The most notable example is the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), which provides a 26% tax credit for the project for the year that construction breaks ground. If your organization is interested in qualifying for that ITC, it’s important to start making plans immediately, because the credit amount is rapidly dropping in the next couple of years as the program is phased out entirely.
Your organization may also be interested in alternatives like a PPA, or power purchase agreement made with a developer. This can help cover initial costs of installation and may be an ideal option for businesses that are open to a solar installation but don’t have the budget to begin the project.
6. They Make Parking Lots Look Better
There’s no need to worry that installing solar panels will make a parking lot look confusing, messy, or ugly in any way. Typically, the opposite true: Solar panels are typically installed as broad canopies that complement the existing architecture and enhance the look of parking lots for any potential customers. Owners may also be able to customize the design so that it matches surrounding structures.
7. Offering EV Charging Options Becomes Much Easier
We already mentioned that solar carports can be connected to solar storage with large rechargeable batteries (often lithium-ion or similar models) so that electricity can be stored until it needs to be used. This also opens the door for a variety of other applications depending on what the owner decides. One growing option is to use solar storage, not for extra utility needs, but to offer customers with electrical vehicle additional charging options when they park in the lot. Advanced solar systems are now capable of providing the sort of energy that EV charging stations require, which allows for greater usability and even more appeal to customers that drive electric vehicles.
Planning Your Solar Carport Project?
Coldwell Solar is an experienced solar energy company in California, and we will be glad to partner with organizations considering important projects like a solar carport. We can offer consultation services to talk about initial costs, commercial solar financing options, and setting a timeline for the project. When you’re ready, Coldwell Solar can manage the solar panel installation process for you and schedule all necessary maintenance.