Solar power while you park the car
Concentrator photovoltaics are being developed for rooftops and power plants. Soliant Energy is bringing them to car parks.
High-end solar technology isn't just for power plants and commercial rooftops. It also works in parking lots.
Soliant Energy is a start-up doing concentrating photovoltaic systems, which uses a series of mirrored tubes to magnify sunlight onto solar cells to boost electricity. (For an FAQ and photo gallery on concentrating PV, see this article.)
Soliant's primary customer is commercial building owners but the company's product design is flexible enough that it has developed a specialized solar-power generator for car parks, or roofs that shade cars during the day.
"One thing we realized about a year ago was that we could make very large panels, which is something that ordinary solar panels can't do," said company CEO Brad Hines.
The company's traditional "heliotube" concentrator, which is meant to be the same size as traditional solar panels, has 10 tubes that shine light onto solar cells.
To make a product to shade cars it used the same basic design, but by stringing together 16 tubes, Soliant makes the panel a little over 8 feet long, said Hines. The company is planning to ship its commercial products by the end of this year.