A recent story on the CBC spoke about the closing of fashion store Forever 21 across Canada as the LA based company goes through bankruptcy proceedings. But the article goes on to discuss how shopping centres are beginning to diversify and turn themselves into community hubs through entertainment and housing options. This begged a question of what else this large scale structures could be used for.
Taking the local mall for example: it sits on a 75.7-acre site with a building that comes in at 376,389 square feet. A fairly large amount of room which comes with a fairly large roof that has little to no shade cast upon it during the day and serves no true other purpose. That is the description of a prime solar farm location.
The average solar panel produces 15 watts per square foot under direct sunlight. Even sacrificing several thousand square feet – our example mall, using only its rooftop space, could produce over 5.5 million watts of energy. Even at a conservative 6 hours of direct sunlight that’s 33,300 kWh a day. What can that accomplish?
A short list of power usage includes:
- An electric vehicle can travel 7 km on 1 kWh.
- An electric furnace can heat a home for 10 kWh/hour.
- Central air cools a home for 3 kWh/hour.
- Electric water heater uses 380 – 500 kWh per month.
- a Refrigerator uses 350 kWh per month.
The average Canadian household used 11,135 kWh of electricity a year, in 2014. That comes down to 30.5 kWh a day. You could power 3 homes for a year on one 6 hour day using space that currently serves little to no purpose. And that’s just one shopping-centre in a city which has many. Consider, if you will, the untapped power of our malls.