Finding ways to maximize the harvesting of solar power is quite possibly the most important step in moving towards a more sustainable future. However, space on which to place these PV cells is scarce, especially when it comes to urban rooftops. The Brooklyn, NY-based firm SolarWorks have found a working solution to this problem. In collaboration with another Brooklyn-based firm, Situ Studio, they created solar canopies that will fit on almost any roof.
These canopies will be able to support much larger PV arrays as compared to what urban rooftops can accommodate at this time. They also solve the problem posed by angled roofs in suburban and rural areas, since they allow the solar panels to lie flat under the sun, instead of at an angle, which maximizes their exposure to direct sunlight.
They are currently installing these canopies in NYC, and the process starts by first taking the measurements of the roof, and then plugging these values into the design software, which then generates custom plans for the canopy. In this way, each building gets the maximum amount of solar panels that it can support, while still meeting all the fire codes for each building, as well as leaving the roof space open. This also makes it easier to get solar power arrays approved by the city, which can otherwise be a very lengthy and cumbersome process.
They are, however, facing opposition from the residents, some of whom do not think the solar panels would be appropriate for the more historic buildings such as the brownstones. Though most agree than they would look very fitting and futuristic atop the skyscrapers.
To alleviate the concerns of the first group, SolarWorks is working on another canopy design, which would look better on the older buildings. They are also hopeful that people will change their minds on the subject, since going solar is such an important step in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
They hope to start bringing the concept to other cities in the near future.