Can a Solar Carport Cost Too Much?

We’ve seen on several occasions solar carports being installed by businesses and at schools. While all of these projects have practicality, is it possible for one to cost too much? One incentive for adding such structures – aside from the dual practicality – has been the federal stimulus allotted to each state, with alternative energy projects being some of the uses for this money. As we saw in New Jersey at Richard Stockton College, part of that state’s money went to such a project which not only added a solar carport to power part of the school but also for students to experiment with using electric cars powered by said carports. Such a project then allows for an immediate and logical application and, additionally, experimentation for the future.

So, then, is it possible for such a project not to be practical or to cost too much? In Bexley, a city near Columbus, OH, the answer might be, “Yes.” The project involving solar carports has plans for adding four carports to the parking lot of police station to support photovoltaic panels, which will serve as 15 to 20 percent of the police station’s energy. But, while this project will cost over $300,000, the city will save only $75,000 over 20 years from powering the police station. Does this seem like a wise investment or incorporation of solar power?

Carports have been used in such projects for their versatility. Not only do the structures provide shade far cars in a parking lot but they can support solar panels and be angled in a few directions for the best possible location. Unfortunately, this project in Bexley doesn’t appear to have much financial payoff for the city. Although Ohio has 25 projects planned for alternative energy using the federal stimulus money, the city of Bexley is still deciding on the practicality of this one.