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Solar panel canopies bring shade, light and green energy to UC Riverside

By in Press Enterprise on November 26, 2017

By Richard K. De Atley

Students using UC Riverside’s parking lots near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Canyon Crest Drive once tried to park as close as possible to classrooms and avoid a long walk from the lots’ far ends, near the city streets.

But now they have it made in the shade.

Over the summer, and working against a Sept. 28 first-day-of-instruction deadline, workers installed canopies bearing 9,600 solar panels on campus Lots 30 and 32 that now cover, light, and shade 2,450 parking spaces.

The canopies cover the smaller Lot 32 and a section of the sprawling Lot 30 that is closest to Martin Luther King Boulevard.

A summer project on the UC Riverside campus erected canopies bearing 9,600 solar panels. When it goes online, the panels in campus parking lots 30 and 32 will supply about 7.6 million annual kilowatt hours of power to the campus — enough to power 788 homes. The canopies cover Lot 32 and part of Lot 30, located just north of Martin Luther King Boulevard at Canyon Crest Drive, in Riverside.

For campus passers-by, the canopies seemed to sprout up during the summer.

“People were surprised,” said John Franklin, project manager at UCR’s Architects and Engineers Department.

The work involved putting concrete caissons 15 feet into the ground to hold the vertical steel, fixing the solar panels to cross-members and lifting and bolting them into place, one big section at a time.

Workers managed to put put an average of about 600 panels a day, Franklin said, but on one day managed 1,000.

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