We talked about the booming solar panel industry in an earlier post. One mostly thinks about solar panels installed on rooftops, but the Dutchmen showed that you can also put them, for instance, in a bike road (see this photo of the week). In Los Angeles, where car parking lots are more abundant than bike roads, they’ve come up with another cool idea: solar panel carports. This has a double advantage: generating lots of clean energy and keeping the cars cool. Knowing that 40% percent of the American pavement is parking, this is a huge area to fill up with solar panels. They also decrease the urban heat island effect, the phenomenon that cities become significantly hotter in summer than the surrounding country because asphalt absorbs more heat and retains it better than soil. In the hotter heat seasons expected in the future, this could be an important factor to keep cities enjoyable in summer days. Today, this solution is not yet widely applied because of its relatively high cost. The construction uses more construction steel than, say, rooftop solar panels. The installation costs are also higher. In 2014 up to 600MW was installed in the US, mostly in California. Since solar panel prices are still going downwards, the solar carports could soon become economically viable in many US states and other countries.