Australians are a tough bunch. We love the sun, surf, sand… but definitely not a stinking hot car on a summer’s day! The good news is that we can shield our vehicles and harness the sun’s fiery power to generate electricity plus cool our buildings, all with one solution: solar car ports.
Australians are a tough bunch. We love the sun, we love the surf, we love sand, we love sport… and plenty of it. But let’s face it: we aren’t as tough as we used to be. Gone are the endless days spent at the beach soaked in cocoa butter and covered in sand, slowly roasting the perfect bronzed bod. Nowadays, we do anything we can to avoid the sun’s harsh rays. Rashies, beach tents, SPF 40 sunscreen and broad brim hats have become commonplace whenever an Aussie transitions from inside to outside – which is great for safety and health, but I must admit that I do miss the sting of sunburn to remind me it’s summer again!
But the one thing I’ve never enjoyed – back then and today – is the waft of a simmering dashboard slowly off-gasing inside the station wagon. Call me soft, but phew! As a kid, I remember dashing across burning asphalt to seek refuge in the Commodore, only to realise the interior was 30° hotter than my blistering feet!
Not much has changed since those days, at least when you mix cars with the Aussie midday sun. The heat build-up inside a car is pretty extreme and can reach temperatures 20-30° hotter than outside the car – that’s hot! (I can vouch from experience that the rate at which Neapolitan ice cream liquefies on the trip home from the supermarket is remarkably fast in those sorts of temperatures.)
So it’s refreshing to see the emergence of shading devices over shopping centre car parks. Be it a shade sail or car port, it’s a big relief when we leave the comfort of the shopping centre and head for the car.
But what has impressed me even more is the rise of the solar car port. Not only are we shading the cars that we leave to cook in the midday sun, but we now utilise that harsh sun to generate the energy which cools the supermarket. It’s a win for the supermarket, and it’s a big win for Neapolitan ice cream!
More and more property owners are realising the benefits of solar car ports. Let’s face it: the humble car park is a necessary evil, as it provides space for patrons to park while they utilise the facility but it chews up a lot of valuable real estate. Premises which can’t utilise the space underground usually need to provide an open-air car park, which is an expensive and often underutilised area.
But using the carpark to harvest solar energy and feed that energy back into the facility creates a win for everybody. Customers, owners and tenants all benefit from local, low cost and clean electricity. Did I mention the added benefit of providing ample shade for the station wagon?
Perdaman Advanced Energy is currently building one such structure on the Northam Boulevard Shopping Centre in Northam, Western Australia. With a planned system in excess of 600 kW, it will generate over one million kilowatt hours per annum and reduce the centre’s grid reliance by almost 40%. Learn more about this exciting project.
At a time when energy costs are increasing and the effects of the sun are becoming more extreme, to consider utilising that wasted car park area is a no-brainer.
Happy customers are good customers, and providing shade for shoppers especially during summer makes great business sense – not to mention all that power, generated in an area that was previously doing nothing but cooking the station wagon and claiming another tub of Australia’s favourite ice cream!