Solar carports next big thing? US charts record growth

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Report says US solar carport market set to add 180MW in 2014 in 4th consecutive year of record growth, and could be worth $850m within two years.

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Australia’s PV industry can now add solar carports to its list of non-residential solar sectors that are yet to take off in this country, as analysts in the US herald another record year in the burgeoning market – the fourth consecutive year, in fact, that over 100MW of solar carports would be installed in the US.

According to a new report from Greentech Media Research, US Solar Carport Market 2014-2018: Landscape, Outlook and Leading Companies, America is forecast to add more than 180MW of solar carports in 2014, up from 157MW in 2013, and could be worth nearly $850 million in the space of just two years.Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 12.32.25 PM

Historically seen as a niche market, GTM attributes recent growth in the US carport solar market to falling system prices as well as a shift in the value proposition of these types of installations, as educational, government, and non-profit customers target savings on electricity bills.

“With the average system price of solar carports continuing to fall, commercial solar developers can offer increased value to customers in the form of larger project sizes and greater electricity savings,” said Scott Moskowitz, author of the report.

Developers have used this tactic, Moskowitz notes, exploiting state-level incentives to grow the market at a CAGR of 45 per cent from 2010 to 2014.

While the report noted that California has historically represented more than half of the national market for solar carports, it also stated that new east coast destinations are cropping up. GTM expects that continued growth in California, New Jersey and Arizona will help boost the total value of the market to $843 million in 2016.

But the Americans aren’t the only ones to have cottoned on to the benefits of combining parking structures with power plants.

A solar carport on the roof of Galliker Transport provides protection for 2000 while meeting all of the building’s energy needs.

In not-so sunny Switzerland, transport and logistics firm Galliker Transport recently installed a massive 2721-module grid-connected rooftop system that shelters 2000 cars while producing 544,900 kWh of electricity – nearly 720 MWh in its first full year of operation – enough to cover 100% of the energy needs of the building.

As reported here on Monday, the project was also financed by the Galliker Company, “who saw the solar structure as a good investment despite not having any special rebates or feed-in tariffs to take advantage of.”

Back in the US, Moskowitz notes, “the vendor and developer landscape for PV carports is growing more complex as companies optimize their strategy to meet a challenging pricing environment.”

In general, he says, developers are moving away from vertical integration to tap into lower cost structural suppliers and vendors are increasing their scope of services to combat falling pricing.

he grid-connected rooftop system that measures over 5100 square meters includes 2721 monocrystalline modules, both 255W and 300W connected to SolarMax string inverters.

The project was financed by the Galliker Company who saw the solar structure as a good investment despite not having any special rebates or feed-in tariffs to take advantage of.

What may be Switzerland’s largest solar carport produced nearly 720 MWh in its first full year of operation, able to cover 100% of the energy needs of the building. The installation produces 544,900 kWh, an output that exceeded the predicted production by 10%.

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  1. Sydney Sustainable Living 4 years ago

    Would love to see more of this everywhere! We are so focused on reducing waste – so why not apply the same thinking in design when it comes to solar energy!

  2. MorinMoss 4 years ago

    I’ve been saying for years that solar carports should be everywhere, especially the sunny US Southwest.

  3. Ronald Brakels 4 years ago

    The neat thing is the roof becomes the solar panel and vice versa. This saves on material as there is no need to double up on structure as with a typical solar panel system. This means savings on cost per watt installed but only once enough solar roofing material is produced to gain economies of scale. Having solar PV built into roofing material is not a new thing, but with the cost of solar panels rapidly dropping it appeared no one was willing to invest in solar roofing material on a large scale and it has been a niche thing so far. But now that solar panels have dropped to 50 cents a watt the time has come to start making PV roofing materials in bulk as it is now impossible for solar panels to drop in price by more than 50 cents a watt.

  4. DGW 4 years ago

    You do occasionally see solar carports in the Phoenix area, mostly with office complex parking lots. Imagine the difference for inside car temperature!
    But Phoenix seems to be mostly made of paved roads and parking lots.
    So don’t pave over the desert with solar arrays.
    Re-pave Phoenix with solar carports and even along the hundreds of miles of roads and freeways. The sun-blessed American SW could potentially power a sizable percentage of the entire nation. If not for the Koch Bothers.

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