Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Drivers who leave their car in a parking lot on a sunny day can testify that the sun can quickly heat things up. To harness the power of sunlight, school districts in California have been erecting solar panels above their parking lots. According to the New York Times, about 75 schools have adopted these roofs to provide shade and generate electricity. School districts build the roofs with financial support from sponsors, who sell the produced energy back to the schools. A Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman told the Times that this year’s total capacity from school-based solar power is estimated to be about 20 megawatts – enough to power over 3,000 homes. Some parking lot roofs – in California as well as other states across the country including Tennessee – also include outlets for drivers to charge their electric vehicles.