The feasibility of solar parking lots for electric vehicles

  • Raquel Figueiredo, Pedro Nunes, Miguel C. Brito
  • Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Energy, December 2017, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/

The feasibility of charging electric vehicles with solar panels in parking lots

What is it about?

Imagine going to work by train, and that you leave your car at the train station parking site during the day. Next, imagine that you don't have to be worried about your car battery because it is charged there, using clean solar energy! This is what we have studied. We analysed the technical and financial performance of a solar powered park&ride. Results show that there is plenty of room for the solar panels required to charge all car batteries, but, at today's prices, it is still expensive and we can only get the investment money back after almost 15 years. On the other hand, a relatively limited public subsidy would enable the solar car park economic viability, and help disseminate this approach to all sunny cities.

Why is it important?

Electric vehicles are the future of mobility! Imagine that all these cars were charged with electricity from fossil or radioactive fuels... Senseless! But if we are able to charge our cars during the day, when we are at work, with clean solar energy, then it would make sense. But, of course, it's always important to consider the costs – that's why we made a financial analysis.


Raquel Figueiredo
Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon

This study has begun with my MSc thesis, where I have tried to understand if it would be feasible to charge electric vehicles using photovoltaics. From previous work of my colleagues, I knew that it would be interesting to study the option of charging vehicles when their owners were at work, i.e., during the day. However, the economic feasibility of this concept was one of my concerns! And, apparently, economically-wise this is not yet the best option for an investor, at least if we don't consider public subsidies.

Miguel C Brito

This work follows previous work where we showed that electric vehicles were the ideal sink for the excess solar energy production during the day. This will be very different from the current idea of charging electric cars in the evening, at home, when electricity price is cheaper. Hence, we need to look at alternatives, such as infrastructures for (solar) charging electric cars, at work and/or car parks near public transport modes, such as this park&ride.

Pedro Nunes
Universidade de Lisboa

Society is at the verge of electric mobility emergence, and it needs to think about how, where and when the vehicles are going to be charged. Since solar energy is also emerging, it would be ideal if we could couple both technologies, such as in parking lots, where we could charge electric vehicles with solar energy produced on-site (and shade the vehicles with the panels). Energy and environmental wise this is a good idea, and society would benefit of its wide application, and so it makes sense to support it.

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The following have contributed to this page: Raquel Figueiredo, Miguel C Brito, and Pedro Nunes