The advent of solar canopies around the world has been a topic I have covered at length in this blog, especially since green technology has become a major component of monetary savings. Many companies are looking to solar panels as a major way of using renewable resources as a way to create energy for physical locations. This is especially true for colleges, many of whom have installed solar canopies and wind towers to put a dent in electric bills for campuses. Many towns are also in the green market, putting up charging stations that not only generate electricity from the sun for powering vehicles, but also generate cash for the local economy.
However impressive solar canopies are, I have failed to look at the actual solar technology behind these products. Interestingly enough, the plastics industry is being hit pretty hard by solar technology development and have needed to develop new plastics for certain standards for charging stations. According to Plastics Today:
“…charger manufacturers are turning towards plastics as they take different approaches to developing covers for the outside. Outdoors, charging stations must remain durable in northeastern Europe’s icy winter weather as well as heat resistant in the southwest deserts of the United States. They also need to allow unhampered communications, as more are operating with wireless…some charging stations now contain links to databases that will accept and keep track of payments.”
The article says that some of the newer charging stations are being made from materials like wood-composite plastic, which is also used for decks and patios. Although one might think that indoor charging stations might have looser regulations, the industry actually demands the opposite. They must be insulated, lightweight and fire retardant in case of emergency situations. One company out of Europe is actually using a type of plastic that can be used indoor and out:
“…their pole and wall-mounted electric vehicle chargers are used in both indoor and outdoor private and commercial locations, and can power electric cars, bicycles, or scooters. The new plastic they use from Bayer MaterialScience is a recyclable halogen-free PC+ABS bend.”
How does this affect the canopy industry in the future? It still stands to be seen, especially since the solar technology being developed is advancing very quickly. However, canopies and metal carports are certainly strong enough to deal with the restrictions from government bodies, so only the plastics need to be tampered with.