Solar carports for industry, retail and business: Park vehicles securely, sustainably and under shelter
Rows of cars glisten in the blazing sun on hot summer days while parked on your company car park or at your business premises. We all know the situation. You get into your car at the end of the working day or shopping trip but are reluctant to touch the steering wheel because it will burn your fingers. In the bitter cold of winter, car drivers are often faced with different problems. Everyone would rather not be endlessly scraping ice from the windscreen. This is where carports can help. They protect cars from the effects of the weather. They have other benefits as well: Carport surfaces are particularly suitable for photovoltaics. You can read more about the advantages and possibilities of solar carports for companies in this article.
Why solar carports?
In the situation where your existing building roof does not fulfil the structural requirements for the installation of a photovoltaic system or one is already installed, a PV carport can prove a welcome alternative or serve as an additional surface for photovoltaics.
You can simply make use of your company car park. A solar carport can transform these areas so that they generate not only sustainable energy but also added value for your employees and customers. The carport roof shelters the vehicles from the effects of the weather, while the energy generated by the solar modules can be used with e-mobility infrastructure.
As policy develops into action on climate protection, we see more and more planning authorities insisting that photovoltaics be installed on new builds. For example, from 1 January 2022, every application for a new non-residential building or new car park with more than 75 spaces in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is obliged to include the installation of a photovoltaic system.
Advantages of a PV system on a carport
- Weather protection for your vehicles
- Pleasing external appearance
- Scope for customised design
- Integration of e-charging facilities
- Optimum use of available surfaces
- Independence from electricity prices
- Long-term contribution to the energy turnaround
In addition to all the above advantages, a solar roof on your carport is an unmistakable external sign of your contribution to the energy turnaround. As with the traditional rooftop PV system, you generate a proportion of the electrical energy your company requires directly on the premises. You are behaving sustainably and protecting the climate. Depending on its location and orientation, a carport with ten parking spaces can provide around 40,000 kWh of green electricity, saving 21,000 kg of CO2emissions every year. Based on the average consumption of an e-vehicle of 12.7 kWh/100 km (eGolf), the solar electricity generated by one parking space is enough to drive 31,000 km.
Example calculation for one parking space
|Carport with 10 parking spaces||108 modules can be installed|
|Installed PV capacity||40 kWp (4kWp/parking space)|
|PV annual yield||40,000 kWh (4,000 kWh/parking space)|
|E-vehicle consumption (eGolf)||12,7 kWh/100 km|
|Distance travelled per parking space per year||(4,000 kWh)/(0.127 kWh/km) = 31,000 km
Enough to cover the annual mileage of the average car user
In addition, generating your own energy means you are unaffected by rising electricity prices. Because the yield can be predicted with a great deal of certainty and the 20-year feed-in tariff is agreed in advance, a PV carport represents a low-risk investment.
Like other PV systems, a carport is subject to the applicable regulations in the German Renewable Energies Act (EEG), current version 2021. However, in contrast to a rooftop system, the erection of a carport requires planning permission.
PV carport concepts for own consumption and feed-in
1. Own consumption (+ excess fed into grid)
- Up to 750 kWp possible
- Direct marketing obligation from 100 kWp
- System certificate from 135 kW active power
- “Traditional” case in which the generated electricity is used directly for own consumption
This is the traditional model most commonly found in practice. Green electricity is generated and used directly to cover own consumption at the site of generation. Any excess (because more solar energy is generated than can be consumed) is fed into the public grid. In return, the owner receives a statutory feed-in tariff payment in accordance with EEG for a period of 20 years. This model can be used for installed PV capacities up to 750 kWp.
2. Own consumption + marketing via PPA (over 750 kWp)
- From 750 kWp either exclusively own consumption or feed-in
- Excess arises if own consumption is not high enough
- No payment is received for the excess under EEG
- Store the excess or sell it in other ways
- Selling in other ways means having a power purchase agreement with a service provider
- PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)
If the carport has a capacity >750 kWp, the above feed-in arrangements for excess are not available. The choice is either own consumption or 100% feed-in of the PV electricity. If own consumption is chosen, then any excess is not remunerated in accordance with EEG. It is simply “lost”. To avoid this, a power purchase agreement (PPA) can be concluded outside the provisions of the EEG with a service provider, who will take and pay for any excess in accordance with the PPA. An additional agreement could be made with the same service provider to supply (green) electricity if and when required, thus ensuring 100% use of electricity from renewable resources at your premises.
This model comes into consideration mainly for large-scale solar parks.
3. Leasing (and/or operation by third parties)
A leased carport has the advantages of a conventional carport, with the additional bonus of an income through leasing the PV system.
Solar carport design possibilities
Because our carports can be customised to fulfil your specific needs, we can offer a suitable solution for every parking facility. We have various ways of implementing PV to ensure that virtually every car parking space can be a source of sustainable energy. In the case of large-scale car parks, the modular design of our carports allows them to be built in any arrangement and linked together to suit the site.
- Suitable for any orientation of the parking area (mono-pitch, Y-shaped roof etc.)
- One or multiple rows
- High headroom designs available (for trucks, commercial vehicles etc.)
- Can be made to integrate e-charging infrastructure
- Additional options (integrated lighting, rainwater drainage etc.)
Example of reference project: Solar carport for a food chain in Croatia
In Zagreb SENS installed over 750 modules on 1,300 square metres of car parking canopies. The particular carport type here is rather special because it incorporates ten decentralised frequency converters behind a cover in the supporting columns. The adjacent supermarket benefits from the solar carports, which can cover around 20% of the shop’s daily electricity requirement. The PV system has a total capacity of around 208 kWp, which can save approximately 2,235 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Would you like to know more about the options for solar carports on your company’s car parks? Contact us. We would be happy to advise you!
Picture: PV carport Zagreb, Mirko Sečić