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Solar Carport Provides Shelter at Time of Disaster (2)

2016/10/22 11:38
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Continued from Solar Carport Provides Shelter at Time of Disaster (1)

Solar panels on rooftop of parking facility for employees

It is said that the functions of roadside stations as disaster management bases were first recognized following the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake in October 2004. Coupled with the expansion of solar power generation and reduction in prices, solar carports at distribution facilities such as Michi-no-Eki (roadside stations) began to attract attention around that time.

Fig. 7 The solar carport at SUS Shizuoka Office (Source: SUS)

Responding to such needs, aluminum device and product manufacturer SUS of Shizuoka City, which conventionally produced aluminum mounting bases for use at solar power generation plants, rapidly commercialized the "solar carport" that uses solar panels as roofing materials of a parking facility, as its next strategic product. The company installed the product for validation on the parking lot for employees at its Shizuoka Office (Fig. 7).

The roof is mounted with 2,805 solar panels with 0.7MW output, and the parking facility has space for 396 vehicles. The generated power is sold under the FIT scheme. Three columns are fixed to precast concrete foundations, and one unit (array) supported by three foundations consists of 85 solar panels. Each unit offers a parking space for 12 vehicles.

The priority was placed on cost rather than appearance, because the facility is intended for use by employees, and the backs of the solar panels are not covered by concealing panels. Therefore, cables are exposed. However, rain gutters were installed to make the facility more agreeable during heavy rain.

Fig. 8 Tent sheets for protection from cold and temporary floors are offered as options. (Source: Nikkei BP)

The solar panels generate power while functioning as a roof that protects the users from rain and sunlight, and the facility can be used as a shelter during emergencies caused by disasters. Tent sheets for protection from cold and temporary floors are offered as options, and a private living space can be provided during disasters if they are installed under the roof (panels) (Fig. 8).

The construction cost of the solar carport at SUS Shizuoka Office was about ¥230 million (approx US$2.22 million). It incorporates solar panels manufactured by Kyocera Corp.