Solar panels overhead parking lots, like the one at the Paris Disney land. (Image Credit: Jay Black/Unsplash)
Is this the answer? It seems plausible.
In 2020, France became the only European country failing to reach its renewable energy development obligations. Recently, the French Senate passed a bill for mandatory solar panels on parking lots with at least 80 spaces. Beginning in July 2023, parking lots containing 80 to 400 spaces must be compliant with this requirement within five years. Lots exceeding 400 spaces must reach that goal within three years from July 2023. Minimally half the area of a parking lot needs to have solar panel installations. According to the government, this plan could result in generating 11GW of power.
However, some exceptions may apply. For example, outdoor parking lots with “technical, safety, architectural, heritage, and environmental constraints” may not need solar panels. Parking lots, especially those for trucks, with trees shading at least half the area could also be exempt. Solar panel installations that cannot meet economically acceptable conditions could be exempt as well.
Additionally, the French government hopes to install large-scale solar farms on lands beside agricultural regions, highways, and railroad tracks. By 2030, SNCF expects to install over a million square meters of solar panels, helping to reduce energy purchases. It’s still not known how much funds the government plans to provide or how much operators are expected to pay for the solar panels. On the plus side, these installations can shelter cars from the sun and serve as an environmentally-friendly solution for renewable energy.
Parking lots with solar panels aren’t deployed that often just yet. The Belgium Zoo parking lot has the most so far, with 62,000 overhead solar panels covering 70% of its 7,000 parking lots. These generate 20mW of peak electricity, more than the zoo requires. Also, Disney Paris is constructing a 17mW solar parking space that’s 50% complete.
Emmanuel Macron set a goal to boost solar energy generation tenfold to over 100GW and develop fifty offshore wind farms, providing an additional 40GW. Today, France relies on renewables to produce 25% of its electricity. Nuclear power plant repair delays led state electricity company EDF to decrease estimated output, worsening energy supply issues.
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