The world’s first solar pathway “SolaRoad” has become a reality in the Netherlands. Since it is the Dutch, one should expect them to create a cycling road first up, and they did just that!! It is the first road that simply put, converts sunlight into electricity. Instead of the blacktop one sees toughened glass surface (a centimeter thick), under which lies the solar modules. This is the first section or the pilot road and is to be tested to learn how it can be made streamlined and more efficient.
is in Krommenie, (suburb of Amsterdam) along the provincial road N203, next to the Texaco garage on the railway trackside. It is 70 meters (approximately 230 feet) long right now and will be extended to 100 meters (330 feet) by 2016. SolaRoad has been developed by a consortium consisting of TNO, the Province of North-Holland, Ooms Civiel and Imtech Traffic&Infra. The Dutch Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs officially opened SolaRoad to the public on The 12th of November 2014. The minister and his assistant rode a bike to inaugurate the road. The whole width of the pilot road is not paneled. One half is paneled, while on the other half different options for topping the road are being tried out.
The idea of a Solar road which could convert sunlight into usable energy has been around in all seriousness since 2009. There was also a TedX talk on the same topic by Scott Brusaw at TEDxSacramento follow the link to the video.
The skeptics still feel that not being able to tilt the solar panels to follow the sun would reduce productivity by a close to 30%. Same thing can happen if a thick layer of mud, dirt, snow or ice covers the surface. These things will all be answered when the road is tested in real time. Last but not the least is the cost factor – building a road 100 meters long has cost close to $3.5million!!
As per the SolaRoad website – SolaRoad is a pioneering innovation in the field of energy harvesting. It is a unique concept, which converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power. SolaRoad is sustainable and can be used in practice in many different ways. SolaRoad is being developed as prefabricated slabs. It consists of concrete modules of 2.5 by 3.5 meters with a translucent top layer of tempered glass, which is about 1 cm thick. Underneath the glass are crystalline silicon solar cells. The top layer immediately shows an important difference from the traditional road surface. It has to be translucent for sunlight and repel dirt as much as possible. At the same time, the top layer must be skid resistant and strong enough in order to realize a safe road surface. This is one of the technical challenges of SolaRoad.
The premise behind the SolaRoad project is very optimistic and will make a huge difference if taken to a financially viable level. Right now the pilot road has been built at a cost of close to $3.5Million and the test period is three-years, various measurements will be taken and tests performed to enable SolaRoad to undergo further development. The goal is to utilize energy the road produces to run street lights homes etc…
So Yeah!! now there are solar paneled Bicycle lanes in the Netherlands, check them out next time you are in Amsterdam!! IMHO It is a step in the right direction, may be somewhere in the future one of Nostradamus’s predictions will give way to glass snakes enveloping the earth in the place of black snakes!!
Want to see a video about the SolaRoad? Check it out below >>