Earlier this year, websites were blowing up with the news that researchers were experimenting with solar roadways — roads that could be used as energy systems for entire cities, potentially.
The popularity of this idea may have taken some industry analysts by surprise. Though solar power has experienced consistent market growth — experiencing a 41% growth in solar installations in 2013 alone — it has, in many ways, been operating in the background of energy discussions. People have known about it, but haven’t looked into it much.
Now, though, other industries are thinking about ways they can incorporate solar energy into their products or services. Not only is it better for the environment, but it can serve as a powerful additional incentive for a customer to choose one company over many similar options out on the market. One example of this opening solar industry is carports.
Carports, not surprisingly, are used to cover cars — they offer a roof that shields the automobile from sunlight, rain, snow and more. They are affordable, and popular with public and private business parking garages, as well as in residential areas where people might not want to invest in another garage, but want a way to partially shelter their automobiles or boats from some of the elements. According to Green Tech Media (GTM), there are multiple reasons that developers should be excited about the future of the U.S. solar carport market.
They point out that since 2010, the price of solar carports have fallen 51%, and that state-level incentives given for solar energy have been favorable for nonprofit organizations, government entities, and schools. It’s also worth noting that, while the market for carports in 2014 was largely stagnant, the solar carport market segment continued to experience consistent growth. It currently has about a 12% share of the non-residential carport market.
Why else should developers be excited? Thanks to changes in legislation, it is now easier for companies and organizations to invest in solar carports without requiring extensive paperwork or liability acceptance. This means that the customer base for the product is still expanding. Most sales have so far been based in California; as awareness of the technology grows, and states across the country begin offering similar incentives that California does for energy conservation, so too will the market likely grow along with it.
How much will the solar carport market grow within the next several years? According to a report by GTM titled “U.S. Solar Carport Market, 2010-2018,” the industry is expected to hit a high of $843 million in value by 2016.