A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports.
The world is full of car parks. And one British start-up wants us to be using them to produce green energy. Founder of the Solar Cloth Company, Perry Carroll, says his flexible solar panels can be placed on structures that can't take the weight of traditional glass panels. Like this car park in Cambridge. SOUNDBITE (English) FOUNDER OF THE SOLAR CLOTH COMPANY, PERRY CARROLL, SAYING: "There are enough car parking spaces in Great Britain that if we covered with solar, we would end up without having an energy problem at all in Great Britain. Now, we don't have to cover farming fields, we don't have to cover roofs, we don't have to cover, if you wish to call it, new areas. This is existing infrastructure that people use." The company's Innovation Director Christopher Jackson says the lightweight, flexible panels can also be used on non-load bearing commercial roof space. SOUNDBITE (English) SOLAR CLOTH INNOVATION DIRECTOR CHRISTOPHER JACKSON, SAYING: "Roofs which you would never see otherwise can now be turned into sources of electricity. And that means you don't have to have any impact on the environment, there are no concerns to take into account of planning. It's an elegant solution to turn an otherwise unused space into a source of electricity." And the company also has iconic buildings such as the 02 Arena in London in its sights. SOUNDBITE (English) FOUNDER OF THE SOLAR CLOTH COMPANY, PERRY CARROLL, SAYING: "Imagine that powering itself, because it's been covered in a flexible solar tensile structure. Imagine looking at things like the Sydney Opera House, imagine looking at sporting stadia where basically the ground is completely covered with a solar solution that allows you to one, appreciate the artistic merits of the design of the stadium, but it also allows you to create energy for its needs." With several orders in the pipeline and a crowdfunding campaign underway to help grow the company, it may not be too long before this vision becomes a reality.