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Air Quality

Published on May 16th, 2016 | by Cynthia Shahan


17-Second Timelapse Of Giant Solar Parking Canopies In Florida

May 16th, 2016 by  

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Florida International University (FIU) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) recently completed a commercial-scale solar installation at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing. It is “one of a kind” in Florida in that it is FPL’s only such solar research facility at a university.

The 1.4-megawatt solar array of 4,400+ solar panels rests on canopy-like structures. Supplying clean electricity to FPL’s grid, the panels are also providing shade for cars parking underneath.

What actually caught our eye, though, was the 17-second timelapse video of the construction process (h/t Iskander Diyashev). It is pretty fun to watch. Check it out here:

“Engineering faculty and students from the Energy, Power & Sustainability (EPS) program at FIU will use the installation to conduct research that will help FPL advance solar energy in the state,” the press release stated.

“This research project builds on our long-standing relationship with FPL,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “Our students will get hands-on experience and see how the research they conduct in the lab will have an impact in the real world – gaining skills that will help them compete for high-tech 21st-century jobs. This solar power facility is a win-win for FIU, FPL, and our community.”

FIU researchers are considering Florida’s subtropical climate as part of their research.

“Solar power depends on the sun for fuel and with South Florida’s tropical weather conditions the amount of sun can vary greatly from one moment to the next,” said Arif Sarwat, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who serves as director of the FIU and FPL Solar Research Facility and EPS. “In Florida, where sunshine can vary moment to moment, our team is researching how intermittent power generation impacts the grid with an eye toward a better understanding of how to best leverage solar power.”

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Image Credit: FIU

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  • Wayne Williamson

    now that was a cool video….

  • Bob Zielazinski

    When I moved to Oklahoma, I had it explained to me that, while in the North, the best parking spot was the one closest to the building, in the South the best parking spot is the one in the shade.

  • Troy Frank

    Wonder how resilient they are to hurricanes.

    • Doug Cutler

      One assumes engineers took max wind exposure in account. Still, FIU is only a few miles inland from the coast, not much chance for hurricane wind dissipation.The wall to wall panel construction also gives pause as it creates a very large unbroken surface area for the wind to get underneath and grab hold. Any construction engineers that could address these observations?

      • nakedChimp

        grab hold on what?
        The wind (from a hurricane) comes from the side, not from below.
        Unless they block the canopy on some/most sides there will be no meaningful Venturi effect like phenomenon on the panels (blowout, etc).
        I mean, how is the pressure supposed to build up there to cause damage?

        I calculated a carport attached to a shed and there it was clear that the shed wall is causing horizontal air to try to lift the carport roof up (engineer confirmed and signed off on my calcs for battens and beams ;-).. but here?

        • Doug Cutler

          Just curious here. I see the construction is open on all sides to a height of at least 15 feet. Naturally, there will be a clearance for trucks but you’re suggesting perhaps this feature also allows heavy winds to pass through the main structure without much effect?

  • Freddy D

    I know that parking lot canopy solar doesn’t typically compete as well cost-wise with roof or ground mounted, but the combined land use is so much better. I hope solar canopy costs are dropping rapidly.

    • Harry Johnson

      Yes, that steel structure is massive. Rooftop solar just doesn’t require that kind of costly extra carbon footprint. Even solar farms in the desert require much less structure.
      But it’s Florida and they need all the encouragement they can get.

      • Matt

        Not having your car be 180 degrees when you get back from class will also be nice.

  • JamesWimberley

    No pitch at all? IKEA pitch their solar car parks in Spain.

    • Omega Centauri

      I would expect some pitch, for drainage reasons. A similar structure a mile from here on a high school lot, has about a ten degree tilt.

    • Matt

      Looks like segment has a small pitch, stop at 10 or 14 second in. At FIU they are far enough south that they would not be pitch much for best average sun angle.

    • super390

      Hurricane resistance?

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