Scientists in Australia have determined that solar grids—installed on top of the country’s government-owned airports—could annually supply 136,000 homes with power. Because commercial roofs are flat, they’re more efficient for solar arrays than angled residential roofs. Australia is a sunny country with great solar potential, but it’s possible that the same concept could take off in the U.S., too. Airports aren’t surrounded by trees—they’re (mostly) surrounded by wide-open spaces, replete with sunlight. Now imagine those airports’ rooftops, bejeweled with solar panel arrays. This isn’t a fantasy vision of a green tech future, but the subject of new research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University). There, scientists have incorporated real-world data into a software program. The results , published in the Journal of Building Engineering, show that if Australia installed solar panels on top of all 21 of its government-owned airports, the country could produce an estimated 466 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of electrical energy each year. That’s enough to power about 136,000 homes per year. “Australia is facing an energy crisis, yet our solar energy resources—such as airport rooftops—are being wasted,” Chayn Sun, senior lecturer at RMIT, and one of the scientists involved in the new research, […]


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