Solar Carports FAQ

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Our solar carports FAQ page (for commercial projects) answers a range of questions for this type of technology including the benefits, installation and payback.

What is a solar carport?

A solar carport is a stand-alone structure that provides shelter for cars. Each carport is individually designed to suit its environment, but they are generally a lightweight structure that supports a roof covering of solar panels that generate electricity from the sun’s rays.

What are the primary advantages of a solar carport?

There are two primary benefits of solar car ports. The first is the power that is generated from the sun; a carport utilises the sun’s energy that would otherwise go to waste by catching the rays and converting them to electricity. These can be ideal for businesses with roof spaces filled with plant, vents or skylights, where solar would be very difficult to install. The energy that is generated can either be used on site or may be sold to the National Grid. The second advantage is the benefit to car users; a carport allows car drivers to park their car out of the elements, be that rain or sun, ensuring that visitors can get in and out of their cars in the dry or stop their cars overheating in the sun.

Are there any secondary benefits?

There are a number of secondary benefit to installing solar carports. These range from improving footfall to supermarkets, where customers appreciate getting in to and out of cars away from the rain or ensuring that cars do not over-heat.

A solar carport is also a very visible way for companies to present their sustainable credentials to staff and customers. Roof mounted solar is often difficult to see to promote a company’s values; a solar carport is a clear statement of intent.

Solar carports work well with electric vehicle charging points. This is for two reasons; the first is that the car must be parked for a period of time to charge and a carport can provide protection from the elements. The second is that both technologies complement each other, able to share ducting and electrical infrastructure, creating savings if both are installed simultaneously. The second reasons is the amalgamation of the two technologies in the mind of the driver of zero carbon generation and zero carbon driving.

Can a solar carport generate enough energy to charge a car?

A single carport will not generate enough energy to charge a car. However, users of carports do equate the two low carbon technologies. Owners of solar carports should consider onsite consumption as a whole, and the various power consumption loads, with EV charging being additional to these.

What carport designs are available?

Solar carports can be deigned to suit the environment in which they will sit. A carport can be designed to cover any number of car parking spaces, in any format. Carports can be made from a variety of materials, such as galvanised steel and hardwood timber and they can be finished in a variety of colours. Greensphere will ensure that all design is carried out by a qualified design engineer.

What permissions do I need to install a solar carport?

A solar carport will generally require planning permission from the local authority, which may be achieved under delegated authority. Similar to connecting a solar PV system, a solar carport will also need permission from the local distribution network operator, who will be able to say whether and on what terms the generation may be connected to the local grid.

What preparations do I need to make before installing a solar carport?

A solar carport requires a stable foundation to ensure that the wind does not disturb the structure and to ensure that if a vehicle collides with the structure that it does not fail. Foundations are therefore generally either a pile or large mass concrete foundation onto which the superstructure is bolted. Greensphere therefore requires a ground investigation to determine the ground conditions to propose the most economic foundation. Greensphere will also provide carports with a minimum clearance and this requires a topographical survey to identify the levels around the carports. This will allow our designers to assess any change of levels within the carports, either at foundation or roof level and also the height of the portal supporting our panels.

The final preparation is to ensure that there is an effective connection to the customer’s electrical system. This will generally be via cables from the carports to the main switch board, which requires a competent electrical design.

What is the economic pay back for a solar carport?

A carport is significantly slower to recover its capital cost than roof mounted solar PV. Much depends upon the use of the electricity generated and whether there are benefits that are not solely related to the value of generated electricity. The larger the installation then the faster any payback as the fixed costs are spread across more panels.

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