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Old 05-19-2017, 09:47 PM
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Solar Freaking Roadways... again.


Will this nonsense never go away? The supposed plan now is to pave route 66.
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The project is starting small but has plans to scale up quickly. To start, the solar panels will be applied to the walkway around the highway's welcome center in Conway, Missouri, but the plan is to eventually extend the paneling to the highway itself.
As in the past, they'll start small with a sidewalk or two and it will go nowhere beyond that. I wonder how much the company makes on these "demonstration projects"?
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:50 PM
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This company is nearby me and I have been rooting for them...until their first project.
If you remember the original thread kinda petered out right after they built their first demonstration project. I went to the grand opening. It wasn't done. I went back two days later, it was kinda done. Lots and lots of problems for an idea that had several years and lots of money invested. This is from memory so ...

It wasn't generating electricity and I believe was hooked into the grid to power the lights.
Several of the panels weren't working at all.
The gaps between the panels were varied, covered with plastic or aluminum T strips and held down with machine screws, many of which were coming loose.

I didn't stop by this winter to see if it was melting snow. We had a lot of snow.
I just tried to see if the webcam was up but my internet connection slows to flintstone speed in the evening. I did see a link to a page that was supposedly monitoring energy generated but once again, stymied.

I'll check it out later tonight and maybe take a drive up tomorrow.
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Old 05-20-2017, 12:41 AM
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Gah. It's just such a transparently stupid idea. We have tons and tons of available rooftops and plain old wide open spaces where we could install panels that are actually angled such that they catch maximal solar energy. And these guys think that instead of that, we should stick solar panels flat on the ground where they can be covered by dirt and pounded by heavy traffic. Heavy traffic that routinely destroys concrete and asphalt. I just don't get why anyone who spends more than 30 seconds thinking about this believes there is any point whatsoever in pursuing such a technology.
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by steatopygia View Post
...
The gaps between the panels were varied, covered with plastic or aluminum T strips and held down with machine screws, many of which were coming loose.
...
Well rhen, that certainly sounds like something that will hold up to highway traffic!
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Last edited by davidm; 05-20-2017 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 05-20-2017, 06:31 PM
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Nothing makes a better road surface than loose machine screws!
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Old 05-21-2017, 08:39 AM
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On one of the first videos I saw from these idiots they where talking about how it can withstand heavy machinery.

They very carefully drove one of the smallest John Deere tractors over it.
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Old 05-22-2017, 02:34 AM
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I went to check on the original demo installation today. It was a glorious energy generating day, 76 f, sunny.

It looks better now. All of the panels were lighting up. They have improved the gaps between panels. They now have a wider t-track type divider between each panel. The dividers are coated with a non-slip type coating, similar to the tape that we used to put on skateboards. There were no visible screws. There are some gaps where the tracks come together.

The webcam is now working. (Dark right now, so looks good).

The page with the webcam has a link to a site that lists how much energy was generated, I believe per day. If I'm right they generated 1.25 kw/h, with a peak of 0.17 kw at around noon.
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:09 AM
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Solar Freaking Roadways... again. Again

Bump.

The original panels are being removed and replaced with "new and improved" panels.

Here is a Spokane TV news story from tonight that will give you an idea of what they look like.

I took a stroll to see how they were doing back in July and a few of them were dark, not working. The nearby graphic sign which is supposed to show how much electricity is being generated wasn't functioning either. On the plus side none of the glass seemed to have broken.

They new panels should be installed by the end of next week. I'll take a look.
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:49 AM
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I opened this thread expecting to read about Newt Gingrich's idea to use giant space mirrors to create perpetual daylight on the highways.

Turns out it's just something far dumber.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:42 AM
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This is still a thing?

I wish the resources going into things like this would be put into placing real functional and efficient solar panels (without the uneccessary bells and whistles) in practical locations.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:45 AM
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This is pretty dumb, but they must have found someone even dumber if they still have money.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:51 AM
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This is pretty dumb, but they must have found someone even dumber if they still have money.
This. I think it's pretty common for "entrepreneurs" to gin up a project in order to attract investor funding, even if they know that success is technically impossible. This is especially true these days since it's easy to crowdsource funding from the teeming masses through sites like GoFundMe or IndieGoGo instead of courting big bucks from a small pool of more savvy big-dollar venture capitalists; compared to the latter group, the former is far more gullible and demands far less accountability for how money gets spent. Here for example is a maskless, hoseless, cordless CPAP that's been in "development" for years now. It's horseshit, but the developers managed to pull in almost $2M on IndieGoGo. How did they spend that funding? Who knows?
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:58 PM
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there is literally an xkcd for that [note the mouseover text]
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:27 PM
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Bumping again as they have finally installed the New Improved panels. Two months later than they planned.

Local newspaper article. While the article is all sunshine and puppy dogs , the few comments seem to have less faith.
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:58 PM
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That article says that NASA is having them do part of the Kennedy Space Center parking lot. I'd love to know what that's about.

If that's true my guess would be that it was a decision made by some third party facilities contractor, or some Trump appointee thought it was a good idea, or maybe the company's owners contributed to Trump or some other influential politician.
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:17 PM
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From the article;

"The panels are Solar Roadwaysí first commercially available product and the company is in talks with several companies and entities. While they canít name all of them, they can say that those entities include NASA to do at least a portion of the Kennedy Space Center parking lot and the city of Orlando to do a half-dozen small projects."

"Is in talks"

They haven't really come through with anything promised so far. They are years behind initial projections. The demo installation which is only blocks from their office hasn't worked well. I don't have high hopes anymore.
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:35 PM
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Here in the vast midsection of the country, we have miles and miles, of miles and miles. Much of it is crisscrossed by divided interstates with a good strip of median in the middle. I've often wondered if it would be practical to put solar panels there. Just on I-70 between Columbia and Kansas City, for example, there's probably close to 100 miles of grassy median unimpeded by trees. Couldn't we put panels there? I imagine there would be challenges, but it would have to be a whole helluva lot easier than installing and maintaining a solar driving surface.

Last edited by Defensive Indifference; 12-02-2019 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:25 AM
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I read about solar panel driving surface, and I think about places where it snows...and those big-ass snowplows tear up the pavement, scrape off lane markers, and weigh a zillion tons.

Oooh, and all that salt mixes so well with electricity!

Good idea!


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Old 12-03-2019, 03:14 AM
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Here in the vast midsection of the country, we have miles and miles, of miles and miles. Much of it is crisscrossed by divided interstates with a good strip of median in the middle. I've often wondered if it would be practical to put solar panels there. Just on I-70 between Columbia and Kansas City, for example, there's probably close to 100 miles of grassy median unimpeded by trees. Couldn't we put panels there? I imagine there would be challenges, but it would have to be a whole helluva lot easier than installing and maintaining a solar driving surface.
Why? In the vast midsection of the country, you also have acres and acres of cheap land. In the absence of space constraints, roads should be where roads make sense, and solar farms should be where solar farms make sense.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 12-03-2019 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:23 AM
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I read about solar panel driving surface, and I think about places where it snows...and those big-ass snowplows tear up the pavement, scrape off lane markers, and weigh a zillion tons.

Oooh, and all that salt mixes so well with electricity!

Good idea!


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The claim is that the panels would heat up and melt the snow, so there would be no need for plows or salt. Of course the whole thing is nonsense anyway.
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:49 AM
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That article says that NASA is having them do part of the Kennedy Space Center parking lot.
Hopefully it's the part that people aren't parking on. I mean, no one is crazy enough to put solar panels in a place where they'll be covered up for 8 hours every day, are they?
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:58 AM
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Why? In the vast midsection of the country, you also have acres and acres of cheap land. In the absence of space constraints, roads should be where roads make sense, and solar farms should be where solar farms make sense.
A lot of the cheap land is used for agriculture or is wooded. The median strip is just wasted space with few trees on it and easy access. Seems to me we could kill two birds if we put something useful there. But I'm not a civil engineer or anything, so I dunno.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:32 AM
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A lot of the cheap land is used for agriculture or is wooded. The median strip is just wasted space with few trees on it and easy access. Seems to me we could kill two birds if we put something useful there. But I'm not a civil engineer or anything, so I dunno.
It's also very spread out, with access roads, culverts, guardrails, and other stuff in the way. Solar panels in solar farms tend to be clustered around heavy duty transmission equipment for efficiency, and the closer they are to wherever the power will be used, the better. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to string them out along highways where nobody lives.

Farmland is less than $5k per acre in most places. For any solar project in the midwest, land cost is going to be negligible.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:34 AM
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On one of the first videos I saw from these idiots they where talking about how it can withstand heavy machinery.

They very carefully drove one of the smallest John Deere tractors over it.
Which is a sad statement on our scientific literacy. Anyone who understands high school physics should realize that tractors with huge tires exert much less stress (less pressure) on the road than vehicles designed for highway use.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:50 AM
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It's also very spread out, with access roads, culverts, guardrails, and other stuff in the way. Solar panels in solar farms tend to be clustered around heavy duty transmission equipment for efficiency, and the closer they are to wherever the power will be used, the better. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to string them out along highways where nobody lives.

Farmland is less than $5k per acre in most places. For any solar project in the midwest, land cost is going to be negligible.

This.

You've got the whole DC vs AC business, and the need for collection facilities and then transmitting the power to places where power is used. My electrical knowledge is next to zero, but even I can see the need for expensive ifrastructure to transmit very tiny amounts of power.


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Old 12-03-2019, 10:28 AM
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Hopefully it's the part that people aren't parking on. I mean, no one is crazy enough to put solar panels in a place where they'll be covered up for 8 hours every day, are they?
Why not instead put solar panels above the cars in the parking lot, so they're never covered and they provide shade to the cars?
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:30 AM
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It's also very spread out, with access roads, culverts, guardrails, and other stuff in the way. Solar panels in solar farms tend to be clustered around heavy duty transmission equipment for efficiency, and the closer they are to wherever the power will be used, the better. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to string them out along highways where nobody lives.
Drivers on the south side of the panels might be bothered by sunlight reflecting off the panels. Drivers on the north would have a flickering effect as they drove through shafts of sunlight coming through the gaps between the panels. And unless the median is very wide, they'd have to shut down a lane of traffic to do any serious maintenance on the panels.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:46 AM
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Why not instead put solar panels above the cars in the parking lot, so they're never covered and they provide shade to the cars?
Nevada National Guard did this. Kills two birds with one stone.
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:33 PM
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Lots of businesses and government offices in Clark County, too.
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:49 PM
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Is the idea of solar roadways a failure of science education, of critical thinking engineering, or a triumph of the con man?

Because, as noted, thirty seconds of thought shows what a stupid idea it is. So why does it persist?

It's like Theranos.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 12-03-2019 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:58 PM
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And unless the median is very wide, they'd have to shut down a lane of traffic to do any serious maintenance on the panels.
There are plenty of medians wide enough to do maintenance as they are wide enough to have vehicles on them already to do other sorts of maintenance. You probably couldn't get much electricity on inaccessibly-small medians anyway.

I'd say most divided highways have a large enough median, of those that have medians. Most of the median on medium-sized medians might be taken up by buffer space for said maintenance, but not all.
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:01 PM
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Which is a sad statement on our scientific literacy. Anyone who understands high school physics should realize that tractors with huge tires exert much less stress (less pressure) on the road than vehicles designed for highway use.
Sure. And bicycle tires, often inflated to around 100 psi in the case of road bikes, exert the most of all.

But do you think more wear is caused to road surfaces from static pressure exerted from above, or from the lateral forces exerted by vehicles accelerating, decelerating (especially braking, which can literally leave a mark), and turning? How about when defects form on the surface (pot holes and dips) and a larger than normal portion of the weight slams down?
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:20 PM
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Drivers on the south side of the panels might be bothered by sunlight reflecting off the panels. Drivers on the north would have a flickering effect as they drove through shafts of sunlight coming through the gaps between the panels. And unless the median is very wide, they'd have to shut down a lane of traffic to do any serious maintenance on the panels.

I've seen enough medians where none of these would be issues. But what would still be an issue is when an accident involving crossing the median in BFE, which would then never get fixed.
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:21 PM
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Sure. And bicycle tires, often inflated to around 100 psi in the case of road bikes, exert the most of all.
The pressure referred to was not the inflation pressure of the tire, but the pressure exerted on the ground which due to the very large contact patch of tractor tires is typically lower psi for a tractor than it is for most road-going vehicles. Tractors are specifically designed to not sink into the relatively soft dirt of fields, after all.
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:32 PM
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Sure. And bicycle tires, often inflated to around 100 psi in the case of road bikes, exert the most of all.

But do you think more wear is caused to road surfaces from static pressure exerted from above, or from the lateral forces exerted by vehicles accelerating, decelerating (especially braking, which can literally leave a mark), and turning? How about when defects form on the surface (pot holes and dips) and a larger than normal portion of the weight slams down?
"Wear" due to acceleration isn't really the big issue as far as pavement is concerned, it's the bending stress from transient vertical loads, which causes the entire thickness of pavement to flex as the load moves over it. And when it comes to vertical loads, it's hard to beat trucks. 80,000 pounds divided by 18 tires = 5000 pounds of load per tire. Compare to (at most) 1000 pounds per tire for a full-sized passenger car. There's a long-established rule of thumb which says that damage to the pavement scales with the fourth power of tire load. In other words, you can expect a truck tire to cause 625 times as much damage to pavement as a car tire. Throw in the fact that a truck has 4.5 times as many tires, and it means that a truck causes about 2800 times as much damage to the pavement as a car.

A bicycle tire may have the same pressure in it as a truck tire, but since it's only carrying ~100 pounds of load, it hardly causes any flexing of the pavement at all.
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:51 PM
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"Wear" due to acceleration isn't really the big issue as far as pavement is concerned, it's the bending stress from transient vertical loads, which causes the entire thickness of pavement to flex as the load moves over it. And when it comes to vertical loads, it's hard to beat trucks. 80,000 pounds divided by 18 tires = 5000 pounds of load per tire. Compare to (at most) 1000 pounds per tire for a full-sized passenger car. There's a long-established rule of thumb which says that damage to the pavement scales with the fourth power of tire load. In other words, you can expect a truck tire to cause 625 times as much damage to pavement as a car tire. Throw in the fact that a truck has 4.5 times as many tires, and it means that a truck causes about 2800 times as much damage to the pavement as a car.

A bicycle tire may have the same pressure in it as a truck tire, but since it's only carrying ~100 pounds of load, it hardly causes any flexing of the pavement at all.
Thank you for offering up that explanation. To be clear, I’m not the one who sought to equate pressure alone with stress.

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Old 12-03-2019, 03:16 PM
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Why not instead put solar panels above the cars in the parking lot, so they're never covered and they provide shade to the cars?
Yeah this is another thing I've wondered a lot. I think I've seen one or two parking lots do this, but in my totally non-expert opinion, it would seem to be an opportunity to generate a lot of electricity. Turn those acres of parking lot in the average mall into a solar farm. I have no idea of the economics involved, though.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:25 PM
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Yeah this is another thing I've wondered a lot. I think I've seen one or two parking lots do this, but in my totally non-expert opinion, it would seem to be an opportunity to generate a lot of electricity. Turn those acres of parking lot in the average mall into a solar farm. I have no idea of the economics involved, though.
The economics aren't great it most places, which is about 99% of the problem. We had a solar panel company try to sell us on rooftop solar here in central Ohio, and based on the current (low) energy prices due to fracking and the limited southern sun exposure that comes with being at 40 degrees latitude, even they couldn't get us a ROI under the lifespan of the solar panels. They basically shrugged and left, and nearest I can tell abandoned the idea of a central Ohio market altogether.

Basically the business case for solar in America is strongest in the Southwest where the question of "where do we put these solar panels" isn't really a question at all -- finding some empty desert land next to a population center is as easy as a throwing a rock.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:34 PM
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Are my taxes paying for this shit? If NASA is buying, that suggests they are.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:16 PM
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Why not instead put solar panels above the cars in the parking lot, so they're never covered and they provide shade to the cars?
Yeah, but where's the potential for hype (and all the sweet sweet money derived from it) in that?
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:20 PM
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The economics aren't great it most places, which is about 99% of the problem. We had a solar panel company try to sell us on rooftop solar here in central Ohio, and based on the current (low) energy prices due to fracking and the limited southern sun exposure that comes with being at 40 degrees latitude...
At a similar latitude to yours, northern California's major hospital chain has been (slowly) solar-roofing its many parking lots since 2008. They claim to provide circa 50% of each site's power. I've noticed a few tech-biz campuses with such solar parking around greater Sacramento, which doesn't always boast clear skies.

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Are my taxes paying for this shit? If NASA is buying, that suggests they are.
Your taxes pay for much more and much worse shit than this.
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:18 AM
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At a similar latitude to yours, northern California's major hospital chain has been (slowly) solar-roofing its many parking lots since 2008. They claim to provide circa 50% of each site's power. I've noticed a few tech-biz campuses with such solar parking around greater Sacramento, which doesn't always boast clear skies.


Your taxes pay for much more and much worse shit than this.
By gummit, we'll have solar panels on the moon before I stand to see my tax dollars go to paving roads with solar panels on Earth!

And lest anyone think Iím mocking posters who have expressed doubt about the NASA parking lot initiative, I actually would rather see my tax dollars going to put solar panels (and other things associated with economic development) on the moon than to projects on Earth that are not economically viable.

When the moon starts to pay off, itíll pay off big. Itís just a question of to whom, and when.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:29 AM
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At a similar latitude to yours, northern California's major hospital chain has been (slowly) solar-roofing its many parking lots since 2008. They claim to provide circa 50% of each site's power. I've noticed a few tech-biz campuses with such solar parking around greater Sacramento, which doesn't always boast clear skies.
I also mentioned the F word, which is a key component to solar's difficulty providing a reasonable ROI on the east coast. I don't know what the fracking situation is in Cali, but here in Ohio it's rampant. Natural gas is cheap, and therefore my grid electricity is cheap. Solar is a tough sell.

That's not to say there aren't solar projects here, but they're generally PR or environmentally driven, not financially motivated.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:43 AM
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Why not instead put solar panels above the cars in the parking lot, so they're never covered and they provide shade to the cars?
That was innovative last year. This year, not so much.
  #45  
Old 12-04-2019, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by steronz View Post
I also mentioned the F word, which is a key component to solar's difficulty providing a reasonable ROI on the east coast. I don't know what the fracking situation is in Cali, but here in Ohio it's rampant. Natural gas is cheap, and therefore my grid electricity is cheap. Solar is a tough sell.
Natural gas is cheaper in California than in most east coast states (cite). Ohio gets a below-average share of its electricity from gas (cite).

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 12-04-2019 at 08:28 AM.
  #46  
Old 12-04-2019, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
At a similar latitude to yours, northern California's major hospital chain has been (slowly) solar-roofing its many parking lots since 2008. They claim to provide circa 50% of each site's power. I've noticed a few tech-biz campuses with such solar parking around greater Sacramento, which doesn't always boast clear skies.
Sacramento gets a lot of sun compared to anywhere in Ohio. The only comparable place in California is a little strip around...Crescent City?

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 12-04-2019 at 08:35 AM.
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