Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon

Print

Posted in:

Solar Carports Make Sense

When you live in a city that has an over-abundance of surface parking, it can be a bit depressing just thinking about the wasted opportunities. Parking lots make boatloads of money and are cheap to build, operate and maintain. At this point there are no “incentives” for parking lot operators to do anything other than continue on with “business as usual”.

In the past, we have pointed out a number of ideas that would help to alleviate surface parking blight in Buffalo, from creating ephemeral business destinations along the perimeter of the lots, to various green adaptations that would transform the lots into more productive parcels of land (and more aesthetically pleasing at the same time).

Washington Post (WaPo) has published an article spotlighting an ingenious idea that’s time has finally come. Instead of simply using the lots for parking cars, an idea has emerged that transforms these lifeless urban zones into productive energy collectors. Solar Carports protect cars from the elements, provide energy for electric cars, and can generate excess power that can be passed back to the grid, or can power additional projects.

These types of solar arrays are not cheap, but the costs are coming down. According to WaPo, it’s the big companies that are able to roll out the Solar Carports, but that should change in the near future. A few states are offering financial incentives that are making these types of projects feasible – “[CarPorts] are mainly springing up in Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York and most of all California, which is more than half of the total market.”

To read the WaPo article, click here.

 

Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

View All Articles by queenseyes
Hide Comments
Show Comments
  • LouisTully

    That would be a super idea for a city that has (will have) a 1.2 million square foot manufacturing facility…

  • why the quotation marks around ‘incentives’ and ‘business and usual?’ 
    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/3-erroneous-uses-of-scare-quotes/

  • OldFirstWard

    grad94
    That is debatable in many corners.  I myself use them and consider them stress quotes.  To be used when you want stress a point by use of a brief phrase or word.  I believe it has become a more accepted style of writing especially in blogs and other online forums.

  • OldFirstWard
    not to hijack the thread and with all due respect, you are sadly mistaken. using “quotation marks” to “emphasize” some of your favorite “key words” is flat out “wrong”, not dabatable, and hardly more accepted.
    http://ianchadwick.com/blog/abusing-quotation-marks/

  • jag2

    Makes a lot of sense for the top level of parking ramps and also for sprawling suburban lots, e.g. stadiums (the Redskins installation got a lot of press a few years back, and for good reason), colleges, and office parks. I don’t think the investment makes sense for surface lots in the center of Buffalo; I don’t want any investment that might cause those innumerable, awful lots to stick around for even longer than they might otherwise.

  • jag2

    And airports – that’s another place where you see sprawling lots that could benefit substantially from protecting cars/travelers from the elements, in addition to energy the projects produce.

  • His Majesty

    OldFirstWard 
    Incorrect on all counts. If you want to stress or emphasize something, put it in italics.

  • His Majesty OldFirstWard
    or, like the recent episode of ‘this american life,’ “if you have nothing to say, say it in all caps.”

  • His Majesty

    grad94
    lol

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    grad94 the better question is, why the “WaPo”.  Look forward to the New York Times being referred to as the NyTI from here on out

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    OldFirstWard grad94 “I believe it has become a more accepted style of writing especially in blogs and other online forums.”
    Don’t tell me you’ve lowered yourself to the point where you’re mimicking millennials…because we all know who tends to dominate “blogs and other online forums”….

  • OldFirstWard

    His Majesty
    If you want to pile on, make sure that cleanse your own writing. It seems that you indulge in your own hypocrisy:
    “Yes, Bernice is a bit annoying and I’m convinced that her “cuteness” is what drives most of her popularity.”
    “Media whores is putting it lightly for the former, and they definitely don’t “do” anything.”

  • OldFirstWard

    Matt Marcinkiewicz
    Of course we couldn’t accuse you of lowering yourself either:  
    “Just to address the first paragraph specifically, no, I don’t think “the chicken chick” is attached to the “idea” of Buffalo.”
    “That your “concern” about the state of Buffalo is at some level not sincere.”

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    OldFirstWard Matt Marcinkiewicz 
    I was quoting Davvid in the former instance (I’d earlier stated that I knew Nora from Founding Fathers, so I likely wouldn’t then refer to her as “the chicken chick”.  Kinda humorous way of referring to her, though, iMO).  In the latter case, I was using quotes around the word “concern” to emphasize the word in a sense…but to suggest I wasn’t necessarily buying the legitimacy or depth of his concern.  This wa salso me intentionally playing devil’s advocate, which I sometimes like to do.  In that specific case, the quotes could be translated as the addition of the word ‘supposed’.

  • OldFirstWard

    grad94
    Alright, I’m flagging you for violating your own gripe AND the capitalization rule.
    “hey, readers, if you mouse under anyone’s comment, there’s a “flag” button.  if you think certain comments are off-topic and abusive, please flag them and maybe bro will take action.”

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    OldFirstWard His Majesty I think it’s a matter of clarifying what the function of any/all of these quotes is.  The one that I think is off of all the examples so far is Newell’s “incentives”.  That one caught my eye on first reading as odd…but re-reading that particular sentence, I think he just meant it to suggest that it wasn’t clear what form the incentives would take–hence “incentives”.  “Business as usual” is a cliché and this is probably best served quoted, since it doesn’t actually really mean anything except that which it suggests via mental association.  I personally endorse the usage of quotes around business as usual but not around incentives, in this specific case

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    OldFirstWard His Majesty A secondary implication for “incentives” is that he doubts the legitimacy of incentivizing anything.  That possibility is more interesting to me as it suggests an underlying “fuck the system” sensibility waiting to be unleashed.  But given the generally establishment-oriented nature of BR (if envelope-pushing within the establishment), I don’t think that was the idea.  Basically, in this case, he’d be including the quotes to mock the very idea of incentivizing anything.  Much more nihilistic and more up my alley, ultimately.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    OldFirstWard His Majesty “I think he just meant it to suggest that it wasn’t clear what form the incentives would take–hence ‘incentives'”.
    aka “wink wink, nudge nudge”–could be read to imply that the incentives may or may not be of the legal variety…or failing that, of the ethical sort

  • OldFirstWard

    Matt Marcinkiewicz
    I like using them when necessary.  It really draws the attention of the reader directly to that word or phrase stressing the point.  It is not lazy or careless writing, just a good tool. My guess is that 90% or more of writers use them here including grad94.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    OldFirstWard Matt Marcinkiewicz 
    grad94 gets (needlessly?) pedantic sometimes.  I personally don’t necessarily care how you write as long as I can understand what you’re saying.  I’m at some level pretty big on writing style, but more for personal consideration.  On a forum, functionality is good.  For what it’s worth, both you and grad94 write quite well IMO, as do most regular commenters on here.

  • LouisTully

    Matt Marcinkiewicz grad94 lol I meant to google WaPo to see if anyone calls it that.  I’m figuring I got distracted and found something better to do.

  • foreverbflo

    This concept and practice has been around for some time; at least 10 years. Originally they were proposed as Solar Trees – perhaps in Manhattan. Places to park in the shade (extra $ charged for shady parking spots actually) and to generate reserve energy and/or charge your car as well.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz OldFirstWard
    where do i register?
    🙂

  • foreverbflo

    jag2
    In spite of parking lots being a necessary evil, the CAN be much much better designed and constructed: more environmental, more welcoming and safer and user friendly, storm water capture and filtration, pollinator conservation sites, colorful, shady, name it….. The Green Code will address some of that, but until Buffalo officials simply say: “Enough is Enough!!” and force the hand, the current system will change very little. These parking lots are being done all over the country. They are more than doable here in Buffalo and WNY. Just need that one developer who would say: “Screw it, I’ll buy in and do it. Show me how it can be done.I want to be a leader.” 
    There is a great book called “Re-thinking a Lot”. Check it out.

  • His Majesty

    OldFirstWard
    You’re a f uck*ng idiot.

  • jag2

    foreverbflo Singapore’s supertrees (solar trees on crack that also collect rainwater and are vertical gardens) are just unbelievably stunning.

  • jag2

    LouisTully Matt Marcinkiewicz yeah, as a Washingtonian I can confirm ppl refer to it as WaPo. I mean they just say “the Post” when talking about it, but online that’s the common shorthand. We shorthand a lot of two word names the same way (NoVa, NoMa, MoCo, etc.), which I always assumed was common across the US, but maybe not.

  • bison32

    LouisTully This might work well…. for DC. Buffalo has 54 clear days a year and less than 48% of sunshine reaches the ground. Not to mention snow covered panels and plowing around these things would be a major hassle. Better to ship those solar panels to sunnier climates and invest in renewables like geothermal and wind instead.

  • LouisTully

    bison32 LouisTully Where is your data from?  A quick search turned up 155 days of sunshine in Buffalo and that Buffalo is the sunniest city in the northeast.  The last stat was from NOAA.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    jag2 LouisTully Matt Marcinkiewicz 
    One of my best friends was a copy editor at the “WaPo” for a year or so a couple years back.  He still lives in DC.  I sent him this article to get his thoughts on that shorthand for his former employer; this was his response:
    “That looks weird, but WaPo is a common nickname. This provides no additional clarity unless you were familiar only with the nickname and not the proper title, which applies to no one.”

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    jag2 LouisTully (that last sentence being a reference to Newell’s seeming reason for usage above)

  • bison32

    LouisTully bison32  Data from National Climatic Data Center. See http://www.currentresults.com/Weather/New-York/annual-days-of-sunshine.php   Buffalo does boast the sunniest summers of any Northeast city, but on an annual basis, we don’t get as much sunshine as downstate cities. Checkout NREL.gov for maps of solar and wind energy potential.

  • robbhardy3

    Solar carports sound like a great idea! It would definitely benefit those who have electric cars, as mentioned above. I also think it’d be quite beneficial for the general population as well. I assume these carports are made of aluminum and then have solar panels on the top?http://www.sauerandsons.com/car-ports-patio-roofs/

  • Gary Puntman

    I think it would be nice to have a solar carport. This is a great idea.  It’s an effective way to go green and be more energy efficient.  They also protect cars, like you said.  This is great for electric cars especially. http://www.apollopatios.com.au/site/product_carports.htm

  • VictoriaRunda

    You definitely made some great points, queenseyes. Having the solar panels raised up and out of the way makes it far less likely that they will be destroyed do to human interaction. I’d just imagine that we’d have to find ways of warming them quickly in the event that snowfall covers them up. That, or we would have to pay people to go out and get the snow off of them before the get damaged. http://www.apollopatios.com.au/site/product_carports.htm

  • tedsmith575

    I actually really like the idea of solar carports. Like the article suggests, you could use the energy harnessed to power electric cars or even to power other buildings. That would actually really help the pollution problem as well because these car ports would harness a lot of energy that could be used. Thus we wouldn’t need much of the energy produced through other resources such as coal which hurt our environment. 
    http://allweathershelters.com.au/product-range/carports/

  • VictoriaRunda

    They definitely make more sense than the idea of putting solar panels into roads. Having them in carports would remove them from excessive wear and tear. As the prices of solar panels start coming down we may start seeing this approach become more prevalent. http://www.walkerhomeimprovements.com.au/carports

  • ChristopherHowell1

    I think something like this is actually extremely useful for energy as well. It’s awesome because that is a ton of space just for cars so they might as well fuse it with solar energy. I’d love to see more of these around in most cities! http://lifestylepatios.com/services/carports/

  • jstrong196

    A really good friend of mine is wanting to build a carport for her car and is looking for styles that she can possibly build. There are a ton, but I don’t think that she has looked into solar carports yet. I’ll have to show this to her and see what she thinks. 

    http://lifestylepatios.com/services/carports/