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It’s not just cars that will go through the energy transition in the coming years. Electric vehicle charging stations are a growing focus of construction efforts related to climate change and carbon reduction.
Under a law approved in France last month, parking lots with 80 or more spaces must be covered with solar panels within the next five years. For the largest parking lots, those with more than 400 spaces, at least half of the parking lot surface is covered by solar energy for three years.
Similar renewable energy design ideas are expected to gain more market share in the US, if not necessarily through federal mandate.
“You’re going to see a lot of the same things you’re seeing in France and other countries, but it probably won’t play out the same way in terms of federal action versus provincial action,” said Vice President Bill Abolt, president and head of the energy business for infrastructure consulting firm AECOM.
As local and state governments mandate renewable energy deployments and the federal government takes an incentive-based approach to promoting climate technology through measures like the Inflation Reduction Act, large corporations are making their solar commitments.
Target, Home Depot, Walmart and renewable energy
Target updated its fleet this spring, equipping one of its California stores with solar panels. Home Depot is pushing for all of its stores to use only renewable energy by 2030, while Walmart hopes to achieve that by 2040. These efforts won’t just be through on-site renewable energy generation—buying renewable energy at the utility scale. projects are among the strategic options to achieve these goals – but investing in solar energy for store locations will be more widespread.
“You have a lot of significant companies that have taken steps and made commitments with local governments and agencies on renewable energy and things like that. So there’s no question that this level of investment has accelerated the development of technology, the introduction of more cost-effective solar,” Abolt said. .
According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, solar installation costs have fallen by more than 60% in the past decade.
“There’s no doubt that the cost curve for solar is getting better and better all the time and will continue to do so. Private business has done a lot, and we see more private investment coming as a result,” Abolt said. .
Global commercial real estate firm CBRE has partnered with renewable energy company Altus Power to work with clients including many Fortune 500 companies on solar projects.
“Decarbonisation and energy efficiency and energy sustainability are the key themes for these corporations right now,” said Lars Norell, co-founder and CEO of Altus Power. “The No. 1 answer is clean energy in the building,” he said.
Now it’s possible to consider renewable energy projects for businesses of all sizes, Norell said.
“Something that Walmart, IKEA or Amazon is doing, small family businesses are coming to us and saying, ‘Should we be doing the same thing?’ Can our roof store solar energy?” In almost all of these cases, the answer is absolutely yes,” he said.
Public expectations and board pressure are key factors why large corporations move faster than smaller companies when it comes to renewable energy. “In many cases, small companies don’t have a large audience waiting for them to act, but many of them act out of self-interest or because they want to save money,” Norell said.
Solar energy and commercial real estate
Solar cars and rooftop solar are the main solar designs being adopted in the world of commercial real estate.
“We see that there is almost no debate around the wisdom of putting solar in the parking lot,” Norell said. “We believe that rooftop solar and parking lot solar will make it easier for most communities to not only adopt, but adopt clean energy.”
An increasing number of solar projects have been built on commercial parking lots in recent years, and state governments have created specific incentives for solar vehicles, including the 2018 Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target and the Maryland Energy Administration’s Solar Cap Grant Program, which provides funding. Encouraging the use of solar powered car parks and parking garages, along with EV chargers. It provided up to $250,000 for each solar car project, creating incentives for commercial enterprises to invest in the projects.
“With rising energy prices and more government support, like in France for example, we think there will be more car parks in parking lots,” Norell said.
Commercial retail centers and logistics buildings are prime targets for solar energy. Commercial retail centers, such as grocery stores, consume higher levels of energy and often have large parking lots. Logistics buildings such as warehouses have large rooftops that are optimal locations for applying solar energy.
Altus Power predicts that within the next decade, most buildings will have a solar energy system.
With the growing production and consumption of electric vehicles — the International Energy Agency says electric vehicle sales in the U.S. will double in market share to 4.5% in 2021 to 630,000 EVs — commercial solar-powered businesses are turning to EV chargers in parking lots. more useful for consumers in need. .
The same will be true for warehouses and distribution centers.
“Once you’re able to have fleets of electric vans and trucks, all the trucks come to those logistics buildings and it’s a great place to put fleet chargers, taking advantage of the opportunity to charge when the truck is full. It also has an electric battery,” he said. Norell. “We can charge it with clean electricity because we generate solar power on the roof and it goes into the truck.”