The search for innovation and sustainable means of obtaining energy has given us a lot of new inventions lately. One of which has recently been put to use, the first solar road in the world, and it seems that the Solaroad has produced more energy than planned, and is twice as environmentally friendly since it is not intended to be used by motor vehicles, but by bikes.
The Dutch solar road opened in November of last year and has produced more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy, which is enough to supply a small family household for a year! The would be equal to 70 kWh per square meter according to Solaroad spokesman Sten de Wit. “We predicted [this] as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year,” Sten de Wit told Al-Jazeera America.
The 70-meter-long bike path stretches between the Amsterdam suburbs of Krommenie and Wormerveer. It is made of cheap photovoltaic panels protected by a thick and robust layer of transparent glass, able to support the weight of a bicycle and more. “This version can have a fire brigade truck of 12 tonnes without any damage,” said Arian de Bondt, a director at Ooms Civiel. “We were working on panels for big buses and large vehicles in the long run.”
This pilot project, which cost 3.5 million euros, started three years ago and is the result of a partnership between the Dutch province of Noord-Holland and the engineering companies TNO, Ooms Civiel and Imtech. The test was designed to ensure that the surface would be similar to asphalt and would not cause annoying reflections to drivers and cyclists. So far, about 150,000 cyclists have ridden over the Solaroad.
It’s definitely a considerable hope for the future, because so far the photovoltaic road industry, despite all the efforts, has not seemed to take off. In the US, the Solar Roadways were only able to launch thanks to their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
One of the main limitations in developing solar roads is its low efficiency in energy production compared to solar panels installed on rooftops or fields. This is because the panels placed on the roads may not always be correctly inclined towards the sun. However, many people could benefit from this option, since it would avoid occupying vast areas of land (in the case of solar plants installed in the field), not to mention that its use in densely populated areas of the world, would produce large amounts of clean energy, helping to reduce polluted emissions from fossil fuels.
Source: Al-Jazeera America