Every day, the workhorses of cleantech continue to pull us forward at a fast pace, but there is also occasionally a new spin on some type of already existing technology. Solar energy is pushing out coal in Texas, and powering up homes all over the world. Solar is the future, clearly, and that is being driven by long-establish technology. However, a company in Switzerland and its partner, Kronberg and St. Gallish-Appenzellische Kraftwerke (SAK), have created something unique with solar.
More than just a typical roof that one would install on their homes, this roof is meant for parking lots and would keep vehicles cool while it’s hot out. The solar folding roof can come out when the sun is out, soak up the rays, then go to bed when it’s cloudy, nighttime, or raining. Here are the specs:
- Size: 4,000 M2 or 43055.64 square feet.
- Panels: 1,320 panels per roof.
- Parking Spaces: 150
- Electric Filing Stations 2nd.
- Annual Production: shift 350,000 kWh
First Of Its Kind
The project started back in the spring of 2020 when they built the foldable photovoltaic system on the Kronbergbahn’s parking lot. It has 1,320 solar panels and produces 350,000 kWh per year. Right now, the companies are looking for investors who are interesting in sponsoring a panel. There are 660 panels available for the right of use — 330 panels are used directly by SAK and Kronbergbahn AG — and the license agreement runs for 15 years.
Investors will receive five different experience vouchers during their 15-year right of use — the vouchers vary depending on the investment. If you are interested in investing in a panel, you have two options. You can invest in a whole panel or by the quarter:
- Entire Panel CHF 800 ($852)
- Quarter Panel CHF 200 ($213)
On the order form, you can list up to four names for the panel lettering and you can also include a personal dedication on the certificate.
Evolution of Solar Power
One fun fact about solar energy is that it has been used by humans from as early as the 7th century B.C. Back then, humans would use sunlight to light fires. They would use magnifying glass materials. The Greeks and Romans were able to use mirrors to light torches in the 3rd Century B.C.
These mirrors became known as burning mirrors. Other passive uses of solar energy that are still popular today are sunrooms — rooms with large windows that direct sunlight into a concentrated area. And in the 1700–1800s, scientists were able to power ovens for long trips as well as use the sun’s power to power steamboats.
As we know, more recently, solar photovoltaic systems came into development, and has improved dramatically over recent decades. The cost of solar used to cost around $300 per watt back in 1956. In the US today, you can get rooftop solar for $1.49/watt from Tesla and a similar price from others.
Solar has come a long way. Maybe these retractable solar roofs are another step forward for a niche segment of the market. The question we haven’t seen answered, though, and can’t figure out is: what’s the benefit of folding up?
Why can’t the panels just be fixed and stable like in a traditional solar carport?