How solar panels can protect dealerships in Canada's Hailstorm Alley

July 29, 2019

...Trey Jarrard is co-founder and CEO of Renewvia, in Atlanta, Ga., which is outfitting dealerships in the United States with hail-protection shelters that he says pay for themselves in five years.

For one client, whose installation was under way in early May, any energy savings were just gravy. “He told me, ‘I have $4 million in inventory, and if we have just one event, this has paid for itself.’”

The solar generation of such systems will depend on latitude, he said, which affects both the angle and duration of sunshine. Based on testing in Colorado, every 100 parking spots generate a peak 275 kilowatts of electricity, or about 387,000 kilowatt-hours. He said a 500-space system would generate sufficient energy to cover about 80 per cent of a dealership’s electrical needs.

Jarrard said in the United States, most customers use two-way metering, which allows them to sell excess electricity to the utility. The net effect is using the electrical grid as a battery, effectively selling excess electricity and then buying it back when needed.

South of the border, hail damage is a US $8-billion to $10-billion cost to the industry. Canadian statistics are not available, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said. Private insurers in Canada consider such numbers proprietary, so only anecdotal information is generally available.