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Elon Musk has long dreamt of building the Mars Colonial Transporter–a huge spacecraft capable of carrying 100 people or 100 metric tons of cargo to Mars. The freighter of the solar system, the Mars Colonial Transporter is integral to SpaceX’s plan to spread humanity to a new planet.
But why stop at Mars? On Twitter on Friday, the SpaceX CEO announced that the hypothetical ship might actually be capable of traveling beyond Mars.
So what else is out there for humanity besides Mars?
Well, we don’t yet have a lot of details about the ‘interplanetary transport system’ or what other destinations lie within the range of the vehicle. But the idea got the team at Popular Science speculating about where else we’d like to travel.
Besides Mars, the solar system is home to a few other spots that might be hospitable to human life–or at least slightly less deadly than other places.
The upper atmosphere of Venus, for example, might not be too stifling hot for a human settlement. And the city above the clouds would have some pretty amazing views.
Artist rendering of a Venus cloud city
At about 80 miles above Venus’ surface, the atmospheric pressure and gravitational forces are pretty comparable to those of Earth. And the temperature is a nice, cool 167 degrees Fahrenheit.
With a mostly nitrogen atmosphere and a surface pressure similar to Earth’s, Saturn’s moon Titan could make an interesting home away from home for humanity. The moon may have water below its surface, and perhaps the ammonia that rains down from the sky would help keep our base camp clean. Maybe just don’t light a match near the lakes of liquid methane.
Lakes on Titan
They look like Earth’s! Except they’re flammable in the presence of oxygen.
Other destinations, such as our Moon and Jupiter’s moon Callisto, could be abundant sources of water ice. That’s important not only to provide drinking water for any potential settlers, but also because water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen, obviously, is good for breathing. But hydrogen and oxygen together also make rocket fuel, so any colonies set up on these water worlds could become gas stations for solar system exploration.
[Check out these interplanetary travel posters for more ideas.]But What Could Top Mars?
Elon Musk is a man with big ambitions. After he (presumably) sends the first humans to Mars, but before he retires there himself, he’ll likely need some other lofty goals to chase. We can think of two achievements that would transform humanity’s place in the universe the way colonizing a new planet would.
1. Look for alien life on Europa.
This would not be an easy task, considering the Jovian moon’s potentially life-bearing ocean is buried beneath about 62 miles of ice. Drilling through all that would be a really big job for a robot, but perhaps if Musk were to send a team of drillers there, Armageddon-style, we could finally answer the question, “Is there alien life on Europa?”
Radiation-bombarded Europa would not be a hospitable place for a human team, but the profound implications of either finding or not finding life on another world would make it worth it to attempt a landing here.
2. Take us to another star system.
Interstellar travel is almost definitely too much to ask even of the spacecraft formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter. But since we’re speculating about the hypothetical destinations of a hypothetical vehicle, we figured why not throw this one in, too.What’s Actually Next?
The last we heard, SpaceX is planning to launch the interplanetary transporter in 2023, then send it to Mars with human passengers in 2024. That timeline, like many in spaceflight, will probably turn out to be overly ambitious and subject to delays. But hopefully we’ll find out more about the spaceship when Musk reveals SpaceX’s architecture for Mars later this month.
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POV: BU Should Go Fully Online This Fall
Photo by Cydney Scott
Voices & OpinionPOV: BU Should Go Fully Online This Fall Forcing faculty and graduate teaching fellows back into the classroom is wrong
After shutting its doors abruptly when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, Boston University plans to reopen in the fall.
In late May, BU unveiled its plan for a hybrid approach to classes under the Learn from Anywhere (LfA) model. In a letter sent to returning students outlining LfA, the University noted that undergraduate students may attend classes remotely or in person, to accommodate those who are ill, cannot travel, or are motivated “simply by a…desire to continue extreme social distancing.”
Faculty and graduate teaching fellows are faced with a tougher choice: Without a valid medical reason, they must teach in person or take a leave of absence. While those who do not fit into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high-risk groups can apply for a workplace adjustment, such as moving a class to the spring semester, it is still unclear how many concessions will be granted.
There are clear ethical reasons why forcing faculty and graduate students back is wrong. More generally, reopening campus this fall is a mistake, both from a public health and a pedagogical standpoint.
Before we find a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, life cannot return to normal. While Massachusetts has flattened its curve, allowing large groups to congregate—say, on college campuses—will likely trigger a second wave. Inside gatherings—even with masks and hand sanitizing stations galore—are a real concern due to poor ventilation. As immunologist Erin Bromage explains, a COVID-19 infection occurs when you are exposed to enough viral particles. By Bromage’s estimate, just sitting in a room with an infected person for 50 minutes —the length of a typical class—means you can inhale enough viral particles to fall ill. (Note that a mask only blocks larger liquid droplets from a cough or sneeze, not smaller aerosols from breathing and talking.)
A premature return to campus also puts the community surrounding BU at risk. Flattening the curve is not a green light to reopen. What it really indicates is that through precautionary actions—such as stay-at-home orders—we’ve avoided overwhelming our healthcare system, so far. Remove these precautions prematurely, and we risk undoing months of hard-won work to tamp down the virus. Winning the war against COVID-19 will require a concerted public health effort—and we must do our part. If this means sacrificing the residential college experience for another semester or two, so be it.
A large basis for reopening campus rests on pedagogical arguments: Many BU students feel that online learning is inferior. It is certainly true that learning (and teaching) behind a computer screen is not ideal. But again, we cannot forget that we are in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic—no part of living is ideal during this time. College instruction will be suboptimal, no matter the mode of delivery.
Then, imagine that someone in the classroom tests positive. Anyone who has been in close contact with them—such as their in-person classmates and teacher—will have to be tested and possibly quarantined for two weeks. This situation could happen at any moment.
Consider also the implications of false-positive results—if you test positive but aren’t actually sick. BU’s new testing facility can process 5,000 tests daily. While the false-positive rate for these tests is still unknown, let’s conservatively assume it is 1 percent, based on similar tests. At this rate, 50 people who aren’t even sick would be sent into quarantine per day. Let’s also not forget about false-negatives—or the cases the test misses.
Online instruction has many benefits—and ironically, may provide more of a residential experience than the LfA approach. If classes are fully online, interactions will be far more natural without the barriers of physical distancing and masks and atmosphere of fear. Professors who taught remotely this summer noted surprising benefits—for instance, students who didn’t usually speak up in class contributed more via Zoom’s chat function.
We have less than two months left to prepare for the fall semester. Instead of fighting for the right to teach from anywhere, as teachers have been doing for the past month, this summer would be better spent properly developing courses for online delivery. Remote instruction is not simply a matter of posting a lecture online—there are research-based methods for effective online teaching. Given that a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the fall is “inevitable,” even if we start the semester with LfA, it is probable that we will have to suddenly switch to fully remote anyway. Teachers will best serve the students by preparing the best online version of their course.
Emily Chua (GRS’22) is a PhD candidate in the College of Arts & Sciences Department of Earth & Environment and a graduate writing fellow in CAS’s writing program. She can be reached at [email protected].
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A map of current and projected Arctic conditions
Like the American pika and some other land-based creatures, fish are on the move as they try to adapt to a changing climate. One place this is happening is the seas surrounding the Arctic Ocean. But precisely how fast, in what direction, and to what effect the fish will migrate from their home turf is a big unknown.DISPATCHES FROM THE ARCTIC
This series explores the science and implications of global warming in the North Atlantic Arctic. Boulder-based writer Susan Moran is filing live reports from the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway.
Marine biologists and climate-modeling scientists are following their trail seeking answers. That trail emits a scent of money to fisheries operators. Although no commercial fisheries exist yet in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent continental shelf seas, operators know that could change. (Commercial fishing is currently concentrated on the sub-Arctic seas surrounding the Arctic Ocean.) Naturally, they want the potential bounty. So do nations inhabiting or otherwise potentially fishing in the Arctic. In fact, it’s one reason (along with its interest in fossil fuel and mineral extraction) why China is trying to secure observer status on the Arctic Council, a committee of eight Arctic states that together shape policy for the region.
The seas around the Arctic Ocean are estimated to host at least 20 percent of all the fish in the world’s seas. Aside from their economic promise the northern seas could also play a big role in contributing to global food security. “The world’s growing population means we need more access to food resources,” Lisbeth Berg Hansen, Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, told the Arctic Frontiers conference I’m attending this week in the northern Norwegian city of Tromso. Norway exports more seafood than any other nation. Its cod and other commercial fisheries are concentrated in the Lofoten Islands in the Norwegian Sea, which boast the largest cod stock in the world.
Predicting future patterns of fish distribution and migration is difficult in part because the surface water termperatures in the Arctic waters are as warm as they have ever been, leaving no historical comparison points. Further, scientific models used to estimate marine primary productivity–namely the availability of phytoplankton that are the key ingredient in the diet of zooplankton and fish–are still quite crude and lack data. “There are huge discrepancies between them… something like two orders of magnitude,” said Benjamin Planque, a senior scientist at the Institute of Marine Research here in Tromso. (That’s approximately 100-fold.) The Institute conducts research related to fisheries and makes recommendations to the fisheries industry.
Fish migration map
2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, Clifford Grabhorn
What is as clear as the pristine seas north of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Denmark (including Greenland), Russia, the United States, Canada is that fish will only travel where they can find enough food. That’s why many marine scientists are trying to better understand current and future primary productivity there. “We are talking about some of the most productive ecosystems found in the waters adjacent to the Arctic Ocean,” said Paul Wassmann, an Arctic biologist at the University of Tromso. These waters are brimming with Greenland halibut, cod, capelin, Kamchatka king crab, along which those higher up in the food web–whales, seals and other marine mammals. He cautioned, however, that it is “an open question” how shifts in primary productivity in various locations will translate into fish stocks.
Here’s a snapshot of how some commercial fish species appear to be shifting:
-Cod are moving relatively slowly northward. Thanks to sound fisheries management practices among Norwegian and Russian operators and other factors, cod stock in the Barents Sea, located north of Norway and Russia, is at an all-time high, according to the Institute of Marine Research. Cod are nothing if not resourceful; they’ll eat each other (younger kin) when the pickings are slim.
-Mackerel have already expanded their distribution area to the north and west over the last few years, stretching well into Faroese and Icelandic waters. In fact, it’s a bone of contention between Iceland and Norway (I’ll leave geopolitics for another day). And they may be heading to Russia, which Dr. Wassmann calls the “climate change winner.”
-Capelin abhor super deep waters, so they are not expected to migrate into the Arctic Ocean itself.
Back to the fish diet. Primary production relies on a slew of elements, including sunlight, water and air temperature, currents, wind patterns, salinity, and sea ice cover and extent. All of these are moving targets in the Arctic under climate change. Average surface air temperatures in the Arctic are expected to increase by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, according to estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Arctic Council. And over the last 30 years the ice volume in Arctic has shrunk by at least 70 percent.
Climate affects all levels of food, especially those at the bottom of the food chain, phytoplankton. Other creatures that rely on phytoplankton, from zooplankton to fish to sea birds and whales, respond to climate indirectly, as Harald Loeng, research director of the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), noted at the conference.
While the Arctic seas are extremely productive, they are also very stratified, meaning there’s not much vertical mixing of nutrients in the ocean. As warming and thawing continue scientists expect the water column to be more stratified, which will prevent nutrients from percolating up to the surface.
That process means there won’t be enough food in the Arctic Ocean, at least not enough to lure a commercially harvestable amount of them. “It’s unlikely, even if surface water is exposed to winds (which transport nutrients from the bottom toward the top of the water column) [that it] will be enough to erode that stratification,” said Jean-Eric Tremblay, a biologist at Laval University in Quebec.
Sunset over Tromso
Susan Moran is a freelance journalist based in Boulder, Colo., covering energy development, climate science, agriculture, environmental health and other issues. She writes for the New York Times, The Economist, Nature and other publications. And she co-hosts a weekly science show on KGNU community radio, called “How On Earth.”
Astrophysicists just found a planet orbiting the star HD 26965, 16 light years away from Earth. Finding exoplanets is always fun, and the fact that this one is in the star’s habitable zone (where liquid water could exist on its surface) is a bonus. But that’s not why people are particularly psyched about the announcement.
See, HD 26965 also goes by 40 Eridani A—the star orbited by Spock’s homeworld in Star Trek. That means they found Vulcan. Ok, fine, they found a real-world analog to a completely fictional world, but you can’t blame Star Trek fans for being excited.A star’s backstory
The star was first suggested as a possible candidate for Vulcan’s host in a 1968 collection of short stories by James Blish adapted from episodes of the iconic original series. It became canon decades later in a letter co-authored by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry published in Sky and Telescope in 1991 (see page five).
From the letter: “This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of two important enterprises. One is the HK Project at Mount Wilson Observatory, where astronomers have been monitoring surface magnetic activity on EDO solar-type stars to understand our own Sun’s magnetic history. The other is the starship Enterprise on the television series “Star Trek.” Surprisingly, the two have more in common than their silver anniversaries.”
In 1966—at the same time Star Trek premiered—the HK project started looking at the light of distant stars, trying to get more information about how these flaming balls of charged gas worked. One of those stars was 40 Eridani A, a single star in a triple-star system.We get it, you nerd. What about the actual science?
The data published in a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society is just as cool as the sci-fi. To find this planet, the researchers looked for small changes in the star’s light that could indicate something was orbiting it.
Instead of looking for a dip in light as a planet moves between its star and a telescope (called a transit) these researchers watched the wavelengths of light coming off the star, looking for little shifts that would indicate how it’s moving relative to Earth. That gives them a general idea of how often the planet orbits its star, and how big it is.
“The new planet is a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting the star HD 26965, which is only 16 light years from Earth, making it the closest super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star,” lead author Jian Ge said in a statement. “The planet is roughly twice the size of Earth and orbits its star with a 42-day period just inside the star’s optimal habitable zone.”
But a super-Earth isn’t necessarily Earth-like—the term refers to any planet with a mass higher than our home world’s but significantly less than the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. The researchers don’t yet know what kind of planet the real-life Vulcan is; it could be a big ol’ version of the rocky Earth, but it could also be a gaseous planet something like a pint-sized Neptune.
Without more data, we won’t know. But luckily we’re about to get more data. NASA’s TESS satellite will be looking toward that star later this year, and if the planet transits, we could get more information about its density or atmosphere.
Here are some of the top NFT uses cases that go beyond art and collectibles!
NFTs or non-fungible tokens have become the new attraction in the • Art NFTs: NFTs have a long-standing relationship with digital art. Even if it is fake art in the real-world scenario, NFTs can identify them. • Gaming: According to experts, there are almost 2 million people who indulge themselves in online gaming activities, every day. The reason why NFT has not witnessed a wider acceptance in this industry is that the development lifecycle of games is longer than digital arts and collectibles. But as more people are choosing blockchain games, the industry is turning to the facilities of NFT. • Finance NFTs: In • Fashion and Wearables: Luxury brands are now coming to the NFT space. The amalgamation of high fashion and • Music NFTs: Like an image file or video, musicians can attach their audio pieces to NFTs and create a collectible piece of music. It would be like the first edition of a digital record. Musicians find it difficult to get a fair share of the royalties. The adoption of their music by larger streaming services might not always be possible. Therefore, this model is set to solve all these issues and the artists will no longer depend on third-party services. • Logistics: • Domain Name Ownership: With blockchain domain systems, owners can control their domains using private keys. • Real Estate: NFTs have platforms for selling digital real estate in both the virtual and real worlds. Digital real estate applications are gaining momentum in different types of games. Using NFTs to purchase objects and areas ensures that the original owners and producers can be identified. • Identification and Documentation: NFTs can prove significantly useful when it comes to personal identity management. They contain unique information stored in their tokens. These tokens can be used for documenting degrees, certificates, medical records, and qualifications. The certification can be issued over the blockchain as NFT, which can be traced back to the owner.
NFTs or non-fungible tokens have become the new attraction in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. They are digital tokens of virtual and real-world assets that can be applied to any item. Before NFTs, creating digital scarcity for assets was significantly tougher. Even after facing the growing evolution in technology and as a financial instrument, NFTs continue to offer new means of creating digitized assets, monetizing intellectual property, and verifying the authenticity of the physical assets on the internet. Meanwhile, crypto analysts and experts continue to research more on NFT use cases to learn about their actual potential. The development of non-fungible tokens has not only brought crypto art and digital collectibles together but has also helped in proving the authenticity of real estate and logistics and other unique and collectible goods. Since NFTs have drawn a lot of attention in the arts, entertainment, and business world, here are some interesting NFT use cases and ideas that should go mainstream.: NFTs have a long-standing relationship with digital art. Even if it is fake art in the real-world scenario, NFTs can identify them. Crypto art tends to attain more value if its ownership and authenticity are verified digitally. Sometimes, it becomes more necessary to verify its ownership, rather than the inherent value of the asset. NFTs prove effective for these purposes.: According to experts, there are almost 2 million people who indulge themselves in online gaming activities, every day. The reason why NFT has not witnessed a wider acceptance in this industry is that the development lifecycle of games is longer than digital arts and collectibles. But as more people are choosing blockchain games, the industry is turning to the facilities of NFT.: In Defi , NFTs provide unique financial abilities. Most will have some artwork involved but their value comes from the utility. Through different NFT platforms and models, the users can access token pools, creating secondary markets for these NFTs based on the degree of access they can provide.: Luxury brands are now coming to the NFT space. The amalgamation of high fashion and blockchain has started to create a revolution in the fashion industry. The set includes physical assets like retail clothing and other accessories along with their digital companions as NFTs. The merge of technology like NFT and augmented reality with physical couture has unveiled a new line of digital apparel that will soon overtake industry chúng tôi an image file or video, musicians can attach their audio pieces to NFTs and create a collectible piece of music. It would be like the first edition of a digital record. Musicians find it difficult to get a fair share of the royalties. The adoption of their music by larger streaming services might not always be possible. Therefore, this model is set to solve all these issues and the artists will no longer depend on third-party services. Blockchain technology can be useful for logistics as well mainly because of its immutability and transparency. It ensures that the supply chain data remains authentic and reliable. With essential commodities and perishable goods, it is imperative to know the details related to the goods and for how long will they remain usable. The added benefit to this is NFT’s nature to represent unique chúng tôi blockchain domain systems, owners can control their domains using private keys. Blockchain domain NFTs enable easy trading as well as customizable domain names. The ICANN controls the standard domain name service, which raises concerns about censorship and security. Blockchain domain names are recorded permanently in a public registry and cannot be deleted or altered by any third chúng tôi have platforms for selling digital real estate in both the virtual and real worlds. Digital real estate applications are gaining momentum in different types of games. Using NFTs to purchase objects and areas ensures that the original owners and producers can be chúng tôi can prove significantly useful when it comes to personal identity management. They contain unique information stored in their tokens. These tokens can be used for documenting degrees, certificates, medical records, and qualifications. The certification can be issued over the blockchain as NFT, which can be traced back to the owner.Since NFTs can be linked to real-world assets, they can be used to prove ownership. Real estate deal with physical property deeds. These deeds can be transformed into tokenized digital assets that can move physical assets like houses or land into the blockchain network.
Solar canopies built above parking lots are an increasingly common sight around the country—you can already see these installed at university campuses, airports, and lots near commercial office buildings. Because the sun is a renewable resource, these solar canopies reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with energy production.
The clean energy benefits are clear: A 32-acre solar carport canopy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, for instance, produces about 8.8 megawatts of power, or about $1.2 million in electricity. They also make use of existing space to generate clean energy rather than occupying croplands, arid lands, and grasslands.
There may be other perks to adding solar panels over parking lots, too. Research shows that the benefits of solar canopies can be taken a step further if electric vehicles (EVs) are able to charge right in the parking lot. People can tap into this potential by installing EV chargers in solar carports, which makes charging more accessible for owners and creates a small-scale local energy grid for the community. The expense of installation and other barriers, though, can make deployment challenging.EV charging in the carport
A solar carport canopy with 286 solar modules is able to produce about 140 megawatt-hours of energy per year for EV charging, according to a new Scientific Reports study. That’s enough to provide electricity to more than 3,000 vehicles per month if each car parks for an hour. The authors say charging EVs this way can generate 94 percent lower total carbon dioxide emissions than electricity from traditional grid methods.
To maximize these benefits, smart technology that controls the timing and speed of charging is critical, says Lynn Daniels, manager at RMI’s Carbon-Free Transportation program who was not involved in the study. Smart charging allows users to optimize energy consumption by charging only when prices are cheaper due to low-energy demand or when more renewable energy is available on the grid.
[Related: Solar energy company wants to bolt panels directly into the ground]
EV ownership is growing so swiftly that entire electric grids are at risk of being stressed. If most owners across the US Western region continue to charge their EVs during nighttime, peak electricity demand can increase by up to 25 percent, according to a 2023 Applied Energy study. Accessible daytime charging at work or public charging stations would help address this problem and reduce GHG emissions.
There are ways to maximize emission reductions when smart-charging electric vehicles, according to a recent report from RMI, a nonprofit organization focusing on sustainability. “Our report found that, today, charging one million EVs at the right times is equivalent to taking between 20,000 and 80,000 internal combustion engine vehicles off the road,” says Daniels. If EVs represent 25 percent of vehicles by 2030, “emissions-optimized smart charging,” he adds, would be the equivalent of removing an additional 5.73 million automobiles with combustion engines.A source of revenue, goodwill, and more
Solar canopies provide vehicles with protection from rain, sleet, hail, and other inclement weather, says Joshua M. Pearce, whose research specializes in solar photovoltaic technology and sustainable development at Western University in Canada. The shade they provide also means car owners may require less cooling from air conditioning at start-up because the vehicle didn’t stay under the sun. But that’s not all they can do.
A solar carport canopy with EV charging can be an opportunity for site owners to earn money if drivers have to pay a fee to charge their cars, says Daniels.
On the other hand, if businesses or large-scale retailers provide EV charging for free, Pearce says, that may develop goodwill with customers. Shoppers might spend more time and money while waiting for their cars to charge, allowing business owners to earn even more profit, he adds. And shopping centers have lots of potentially convertible areas: If Walmart deployed 11.1 gigawatts of solar canopies over its 3,571 Supercenter parking lots in the US, that would provide more than 346,000 solar-powered EV charging stations for 90 percent of Americans living within 15 miles of a store, according to a 2023 estimate.
[Related: What you need to know about converting your home to solar]
Solar canopies also save energy, since about 5 percent of electricity is lost each year as it travels from a power plant to your home or business. If the electricity the solar panels produce is used directly by the buildings they’re connected to or the EVs charging in the parking lots, transmission losses can be reduced, says Pearce.
The widespread deployment of solar canopies across parking lots may be an opportunity to create a small-scale local energy grid as well. The electrical grid is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, intentional physical attacks, and cyberattacks. Solar systems in parking lots can be used as anchors for microgrids—local, autonomous power systems that can remain operational while the main grid is down—that could make communities more resilient, “similar to how the US military uses solar to improve national security,” says Pearce.Logistics of transforming parking lots
Upfront capital costs are the primary roadblocks to solar-powered carports with EV charging, says Pearce. The physical structure needs to be taller and more robust than a conventional solar farm, requiring more materials like metal and concrete, he adds. EV chargers also cost money, increasing the price even further. Commercial EV charging stations can cost around $2,500 to $40,000 for a single port. An installation often requires permits and approval from local authorities or inspectors, all of which are additional expenses and barriers to faster deployment.
The design of the solar array may be a challenge, too. “There’s a trade-off between right-sizing the solar array for current EV charging needs versus anticipated future demand and the costs of the solar array,” says Daniels. “The solar array design and location on the site can create significant variability in installation complexity and project costs.”
Daniels recommends raising awareness about the currently-available tax credits and other incentives, such as the federal solar tax credit that can deduct 30 percent of total commercial solar installation costs. There is a tax credit of 6 percent (with a maximum credit of $100,000 per unit) on commercial charging equipment as well, given that it is placed in a low-income community.
When it comes to new regulations, Pearce suggests that policymakers begin with a small step, like mandating solar-powered carports with EV charging capabilities for new surface parking or government-owned lots. After that, requirements for other locations like public universities could follow, he adds.
States or municipalities could also offer incentives other than the existing federal solar tax credit. To encourage state agencies, government offices, businesses, and nonprofits to install EV-charging solar canopies over parking lots, the Maryland Energy Administration’s Solar Canopy and Dual Use Technology Grant Program is offering grants. In 2023, one of these grants enabled IKEA to install a 1.5-megawatt solar canopy with EV charging stations at its Baltimore store.
Moreover, offering low- or no-interest loans to small- and medium-sized businesses can help them “keep up with the big firms investing millions in solar now simply to make money,” says Pearce. In general, if the federal government hopes to break one of the biggest barriers to the installation of solar canopies with EV charging capabilities, reducing upfront costs would be the key.
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