Solar carport systems include a number of key components that require considerable electrical and mechanical design. Solar car parks range in size from a single carport arrangement for one parking space to large multi-bay car parks. We went through the basic of solar carports design in our previous article.
Multifunctional solar carports can provide a flexible energy system designed to fulfil a number of functions. Function requirements of these carports are site specific and take into account:
- Onsite electrical loads (i.e. lighting, EV charging etc.) and storage capacity,
- solar generation capacity (size and performance of solar array installed)
- local distribution network and weather conditions.
Solar Panel Technology Selection
Solar PV modules are made using a number of solar cells and these panels are connected in series or parallel to form a ‘string or an ‘array’. A vast majority of rooftop and ground-mounted solar projects use Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline silicon PV modules which are mounted on aluminium frames. Due to their low costs and availability, these are often used for solar carport projects.
The difference between the two makes of solar PV panels are in the number of silicon crystals used. As the name suggests, Monocrystalline Panels have a single silicon crystal in each cell and are easily recognizable due to their external dark black color, while Polycrystalline Panels are made of multiple silicon crystals. Monocrystalline panels have higher efficiency vis-a-vis polycrystalline panels because of the silicon purity but are also expensive of the two.
We all know solar panels work like a charm in summers. But the real question is, do these panels work equally well during winters? The answer is yes, and there’s more. Electricity production using PV panels has nothing to do with heat and everything to do with the sunlight falling on it. Infact, Winter months are actually good for solar energy production, as long as the panels are not covered by snow. Like most electronics, solar panels function more efficiently in cold conditions than in hot. This means that your panels will produce more power for each precious hour of sunshine during the short days of winter.
What about snowy conditions?
With both ground mount and carport solar structures, higher snow loads usually require more and heavier structural supports for the PV modules. Ground mount structures pose fewer dangers to individuals as they are usually in fields and away from human activity. Snow and ice shedding can be hazardous to the public or property underneath a solar carport. Increasing the tilt angle only adds to this potential hazard, as sheets of melting snow and ice can slide off the modules above. However, these risks and dangers can be minimized in the planning and design phases.
With solar canopies, snow guards can be added to the structure to prevent sheets of snow from falling off the roof and onto persons and vehicles below. Water management can also help prevent icicles from forming on the carport. In some cases, the geometry of the structure can be modified to control where snow may accumulate and the direction water flows off the carport.
Battery Energy Storage Systems and Solar EV Charging
As large automobile manufacturers begin to supply more and more electric vehicles (EVs), demand for EV charging stations in public areas and at places of employment will continue to rise. In countries like Norway, it is natural to have both rapid and normal chargers all around city, parking and work places. Generally, individuals who purchase an EV are interested in sustainability and would prefer the electricity used to power their vehicles to be from a renewable source as well. Luckily, solar carports can be constructed to directly power many EV charging stations.
Installing solar carports and EV infrastructure at the same time gives the benefit of
- higher ROI (Return of Investment) for the electricity locally produced compared to selling it to the grid, as the grid prices are usually lower than purchase price for EV station owners
- Cost savings (here you should move your text that is relvant to tihs part)
- EV infrastructure future proofing;
For example, electrical cabling and trench costs can be shared between the two technologies and EV units can use the electrical infrastructure of the solar carport.
From a EV charging point of view, there are broadly three types of EV Charging station types:
- Slow charging (up to 3kW) – which is best suited for charging domestic vehicles overnight. This takes around 6-8 hours. Slow chargers are being phased out in public locations in favour of fast and rapid chargers.
- Fast charging (7-22kW) – which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours.
- Rapid charging units (43-50kW) – which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Rapid chargers also come in two charge point types (AC and DC) depending on whether they use alternating or direct current.
Source:@Solar_Edition @BRE_Group @NorthAmericaCleanEnergy
Fig 1: @Solar_Edition @EnergySage
Fig 2: @Solar_Edition @FromRidgeToEave
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Keyword: Solar, Solar PV, Carports, Solar Carports, Car Parking