Solar Canopies Will Allow Cities to Go Solar

photovoltaicNew solar panel technology called “solar canopies” shines light on the growing need for cities to convert to clean energy and provides a more effective way for them to do it, too.

In major cities, the 25% recycled content in a metal roof simply isn’t enough on its own to help the environment. Large rooftops often have no problem with the installation of solar panels because they’re broad and flat; residential homes, however, are a different story.

Urban rooftops are often covered in vent pipes, hatches, skylights, and more, and in New York City, fire codes require a six-foot-wide and nine-foot-high open path on every rooftop.

While these fire codes are for the safety of all, they don’t leave much room for solar panels in crowded neighborhoods.

Yet in a surprising and innovative twist, engineers at Brooklyn SolarWorks have found a way around the lack of space. By raising the solar panels above the rooftops with a solar canopy, designed by Brooklyn-based Situ Studio, the space issue is all but solved.

Aside from getting the canopies approved by cities, the only other problem that Brooklyn SolarWorks faces is the aesthetic value of their technology. While most people think the designs are interesting and modern, some believe that they mar the appearance of older buildings.

It seems that a new innovation is being brought about by solar power every week. In fact, recently a new record was set for converting unfocused sunlight into electricity.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales developed a solar cell that pushes the boundaries of what efficient and effective solar power is.

Current solar panels have a conversion efficiency of around 20% for unfocused, natural sunlight, but the UNSW team has broken that record by hitting 34.5% conversion efficiency.

A recent study of current solar photovoltaics, like the ones used in home solar panels, predicted that a 35% conversion rate wouldn’t happen until 2050. The UNSW team shattered both the record and the timeline.

If Brooklyn’s solar canopies are fitted with solar panels like the ones researchers at UNSW have developed, cities around the world could soon thrive on clean energy.

The solar canopies are currently only being installed in New York City, but the company hopes to start installation in other cities soon.

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