Car parks – the perfect solar opportunity

It’s a match made in heaven — car parks and the sun above.  Why wouldn’t one take advantage of a free supply of energy will that could conceivably make a multi-story structure carbon-neutral?  The beachside haven of Coffs Harbour has taken another step towards its goal of becoming a “solar city”.   Councilmembers voted unanimously to proceed with the roof-top installation of solar panels on its Castle Street car park. As part of the council’s “greening” strategy, the 500-panel installation should generate more than enough energy for the car park; in fact it is expected to contribute to the Coffs CBD grid.

This is Coffs Harbour’s second major solar project, with Rigby House already providing power to the city library and the Art Gallery. The addition of the roof top solar structure as part of the car park’s refurbishment is expected to increase utilisation of the top floor, simply by providing protection from the sun and the weather. This improvement, along with some new lifts, will mean that more spaces are freed up on the lower levels (and on-street) for casual shoppers and CBD visitors.

Car parks and solar power – it’s not new or even uncommon, but there’s certainly room for growth.  In 2011, it was reported that “US parking lots are quietly becoming the new frontier in solar power”.  A PR strategist couldn’t have come up with a better match!

Germany, a world leader in the solar energy stakes, provides us with plenty of inspiration on what to do with that open-air car park!

Supermarket in Schwabach, Germany



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