Parking spaces are generally regarded as a waste of space, leading to increasing outcry and calls for car-free city centers, especially in urban areas. But France is now pushing ahead with an idea that could give parking spaces a whole new meaning. Our neighboring country wants to introduce an obligation for large parking lots to have a roof including a photovoltaic system in the future. Experts say that this could result in a maximum total output of 11 gigawatts.
France becomes more ecological
When it comes to environmental protection, Scandinavian countries are considered European pioneers with their bicycle lanes, a high proportion of renewable energy and high car taxes. But France, too, is increasingly relying on regulations designed to ensure lower CO² emissions. Probably the best-known example from our neighboring country is the pioneering step of declaring downtown Paris a car-free zone. Here, local public transport now takes care of people’s transportation needs. Now the French government has unveiled further plans. Since energy costs are also exploding in France in the wake of the Ukraine war, this time the focus is on renewable energy. However, the idea is closely related to road transport. For example, operators of parking lots with space for more than 80 vehicles would like to be required to install solar panels in the future.
- Also interesting: Breakthrough: Transparent solar cells become more efficient
The idea is brilliant, as it would add incredible value to parking lots. And we probably won’t have to wait long to see parking lots with appropriate roofing in France. After all, a law to this effect is already set to come into force on July 1, 2023. However, in view of the current high demand for solar panels, the operators of affected parking lots are being granted a certain grace period. For example, medium-sized parking lots with more than 80 and a maximum of 400 spaces are to be given five years to implement the regulation. For operators of areas with more than 400 parking spaces, on the other hand, the deadline is three years. Those who violate this order will face a hefty fine.
- Also interesting: States want to create incentives for balcony power plant
Up to 11 gigawatts of power possible
The potential of the affected parking spaces in the largest country in the European Union in terms of area seems gigantic. Thus, in France, there is said to be a total of up to 150 million m² of parking areas that would be affected by the regulation. This results in a potential energy generation of up to 11 gigawatts. In theory, this sounds like a huge added value. However, the eventual energy production is likely to be significantly lower. Finally, the law also contains various exceptions to the rule. For example, parking lots with excessive shade can be left out. Also, if the installation of the photovoltaic system is unthinkable from an architectural or technical point of view, the obligation is to be waived. Furthermore, the rule should not apply to truck parking spaces. Otherwise, the roofing would also have to be significantly higher than for conventional car parking spaces.
Gain for the environment and France
Incidentally, it is not only the environment that benefits from the energy transition in France. The state itself has also introduced mechanisms that make it a winner in the progression from fossil fuels to renewables. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports, the French government is currently cashing in on the additional revenue that renewable energy producers are earning from rapidly rising energy costs. Since the price of electricity from renewable energy sources is based on that of energy from fossil fuels on the highly controversial electricity market, this is naturally extremely lucrative. This is also reflected in the figures. In 2022 alone, 31 billion euros are expected to flow into the French treasury.