Technical Solar Photovoltaic Potential of Scaled Parking Lot Canopies: A Case Study of Walmart U.S.A.

Ram Krishnan, Amber Haselhuhn, Joshua M. Pearce

Abstract


Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology can provide sustainable power for the growing global population in cities, but it demands considerable land area. This is a challenge for densely populated cities. However, the stranded assets of non-productive parking lots areas can be converted to solar farms with PV canopies, enabling sustainable electricity generation while preserving their function to park automobiles. This study provides a method for determining the technical and economic potential for converting a national scale retail company’s parking lot area to a solar farm. First, the parking lot area for the company is determined and divided into zones based upon solar flux using virtual maps. Then the potential PV yield in each zone is calculated. A sensitivity analysis is performed on the price per unit power installed, solar energy production as a proxy for conversion efficiency, electricity rates and revenue earned per unit area. To demonstrate this method, analysis of Walmart Supercenters, USA is presented as a case study. The results show solar canopies for parking lot areas are a profitable as well a responsible step in most locations and there is significant potential for sustainable energy deployment in cities by other similar retailers using solar PV canopies.


Keywords


distributed generation; parking lot; photovoltaic; solar canopy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24212/2179-3565.2017v8i2p104-125

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