Solar Taking Over: Three New Innovative Ways That Solar Panel Systems Are Being Used Worldwide
As solar power continues to become more abundant and widespread, new and innovative uses of solar technology have sprung up around the globe. From solar-powered cars, to dog houses, and even tents, solar panel technology remains an ever-evolving, ever-critical step in meeting humanity's energy needs.
Here are three of the most innovative ways that solar power has been used to make a difference in the world today.
The "Canal Solar Power Project"
Open-air irrigation canals present an interesting challenge for conservationists, as diverting fresh water efficiently means reducing the amount of water lost to evaporation. The amount of water lost in this way varies depending on factors like the depth of the water, the width of the canal, and the climate's temperature. Nevertheless, the amount of water lost to evaporation can be significant, with an estimated 63 billion gallons evaporated each year from California's 4,000-plus miles of open-air canals.
In Gujarat, India, an interesting solution was proposed to help solve the problem of open-air evaporation while at the same time generating clean, renewable energy. A canal stemming from the Narmada River was carefully covered with a series of solar panels as part of the Canal Solar Power Project, effectively shading the canal and reducing evaporation. At the same time, the solar panel covering makes use of abundant sunlight to generate clean energy for surrounding areas.
The projected results of the project are staggering, saving an estimated 2.4 million gallons of water each year, while at the same time generating a megawatt of electricity.
Solar Panel Parking Lots
Large-scale generation of solar power has traditionally been the job of solar farms; massive collections of photovoltaic solar panels grouped together for the purpose of generating electricity in areas heavy with direct sunlight. However, recent backlash against solar farms has led to a reduction in the number of new large-scale solar projects. Primarily, this is due to the fact that solar farms require a massive amount of land on which to be built; land which is thereby rendered unusable for other purposes while the solar farm functions.
In France however, an interesting solution has been proposed to expand solar projects of this kind without infringing on available land. The French senate recently passed a bill that makes solar panel coverings mandatory on parking lots of a certain size or larger. According to the bill, any parking lot with 80 parking spaces or more will be required to cover at least half of its spaces with solar panels by 2028. Parking lots of at leas 400 parking spaces will be required to make the change by 2026.
A 2021 study on renewable energy found that if similar initiatives were put into place at Walmart supercenters across America, the resulting electricity generated would be roughly equivalent to the energy produced by 12 coal-fired power plants.
Solar Powered Drive-Thru
A KFC location in California recently came up with an innovative method of dealing with increased utility costs. Looking to reduce its energy bill, the restaurant decided to install a solar panel canopy over its drive-thru line. The covering, which also shades patrons and diverts rainfall, generates enough electricity to save the KFC location $11,000 in the first year of installation alone.
In addition to saving the location money through lowered utility bills, the solar canopy also costs less than other canopies of a similar size because it qualifies for the Federal Investment Tax Credit, covering up to 60% of the cost of the canopy as an incentive for using solar energy. All told, restaurant ownership projects recouping the total cost of their investment after only five years, and generating upwards of $400,000 over the life of their solar panel canopy.
What Can Solar Do for You?
New innovations in solar panel placement help to illustrate just a few of the many ways that solar power is becoming a fixture of everyday life. Solar power represents the future of clean, renewable energy while also acting as an effective means of lowering utility bills and reducing dependence on fossil fuel resources.
What can solar power do for you and your home? At ION Solar, we'd love to help you explore the type of savings and energy independence that can come with a switch to solar.
Talk to one of our team members today to see if a switch to solar is right for you.
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