US developers finish solar carport at recreational vehicle resort in California


From pv magazine USA

DSD Renewables and Black Bear Energy have announced the completion of a 1.5 MW solar project in Menifee, California, at the Wilderness Lakes campground. They mounted the solar arrays on parking canopies. 

The facility is expected to generate 2.4 million kWh of energy per year, in order to meet about 50% of the total energy use at the campground. The site has more than 500 RV campsites and other facilities. 

The United States has roughly 2 billion parking spots. If 25% of those parking spots were fitted with 2.88 kW (DC) per spot, the capacity would reach 1.44 TW in total. Assuming a lower-than-average generation capacity factor of 15%, due to the sub-optimal angling of the panels, these solarized parking spots would generate 1.89 petawatt-hours (PWh) of electricity. The total electrical consumption of the United States is currently around 4 PWh per year. 

In late 2022, California Senator Josh Becker submitted new legislation to facilitate the installation of solar carports in California via a tax incentive. The SB 49 bill will “provide tax incentives for the construction of solar canopies over large parking lots to boost the local generation of clean electricity in urban and suburban areas, while reducing the need for dedicated land in rural areas and transmission to deliver the clean energy into population centers.” 

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Becker said that California’s energy agencies estimate that the state needs about 110 GW of new solar power to meet its 100% clean-energy target by 2045. A Yale University study suggests that carports could meet about one-third of the state’s total electricity demand.

Some US states have already introduced incentives for solar carports, by offsetting the additional costs of steel, installation, and grid connection. These additional costs would normally add as much as $1 per watt versus the price of a typical commercial rooftop installation. The SMART program in Massachusetts, for instance, offers a $0.06/kWh incentive for 20 years for solar canopies.

Built-environment PV projects such as carports and vertical PV arrays on highways are increasingly growing in popularity across Europe. In late 2022, France passed a law that makes solar carports mandatory for all parking lots greater than 1,500 square meters.

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