Santa Clara CA Uses 'Parking Lot Solar Trees' to Save Energy

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on August 22, 2011

Tracey Kaplan: “The frustrating search for a shady spot to park is about to get easier. But the new trees being planted at nine big parking lots in the South Bay aren’t leafy green saplings, they’re big silver specimens with 12-foot-tall trunks and broad steel canopies that will shield cars from the sun — and produce solar power. Known as “solar trees” because they are topped with photovoltaic cells, the “groves” are sprouting up in parking lots at Santa Clara County government buildings and health clinics in San Jose and Gilroy, and at Elmwood jail in Milpitas. The shade they create for cars is just a popular side benefit, though cutting off the sun’s glare also will save some energy by reducing the need for motorists to turn on the air conditioning right away in hot weather. The primary benefit of the parking lot projects is that the power they produce will save the county about $18 million in electrical costs over a 25-year period and reduce greenhouse gases.”

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