So after I wrote about the boneheaded plan to blow up southern California’s desert as a way of building a speedier alternative to Route 66 I read about something that’s actually an amazingly good idea: solar canopies over parking lots. Back in April an IKEA store in Baltimore put solar panels over its parking lot, and the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the city of Santa Cruz have put solar canopies over parking lots too.
It’s one of those so-simple-it’s-smart kind of ideas. The solar panels can generate electricity and they can provide shade at the same time, and if you’ve ever had to hoof it over a parking lot on a hot day, or even a cold day when the sun is out, you know how warm the pavement can get. And hot pavement adds to climate change so cooling that down even a little and capturing some of the energy seems like a really good idea.
Solar canopies can provide energy for the stores that use them, including the lights in the parking lot, or, with the rise of electric cars, they can power charging stations. And imagine some of the otherwise unused space on the roofs of parking garages helping power the lights, ticket booths, and gates on the floors below.
I know a lot more is needed than just putting up the canopies—there’s wiring that’s needed and solar panels obviously don’t work all the time, but still there are a lot of benefits.
And here’s a funny thought: solar power is nuclear power. The source just happens to be a relatively safe 93 million miles away.