IT’S ONLY a 100-yard stretch of cycle path alongside the N203 in Krommenie, north of Amsterdam, at the moment, but this Dutch development could be the pathway to a future of “solar roads” that power electric cars, homes and the infrastructure around them, according to its maker.
Under a super-strong covering of tempered safety glass – with an anti-skid coating – lie photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that could satisfy the electricity needs of two or three homes.
The developer of the SolaRoad says that this energy could be fed into the national electricity network for distribution. The company claims that even if every suitable building in the Netherlands had solar panels fitted to its roof, it would supply only 25% of the country’s electricity needs. Solar roads could bump up the nation’s renewable energy supply considerably.
The 100-yard stretch kicks off a three-year trial, in which researchers will monitor the build-up of dirt and pollution on the glass, which could affect efficiency, and the impact of traffic – the SolaRoad may not be suitable for congested roads. The next phase will be to test it on roads used by motor vehicle, perhaps in bus lanes.
The SolaRoad is not the only PV pathway under development. The American start-up Solar Roadways is creating a solar-powered car park in its home town of Sandpoint, Idaho. The company has received grants from the US Highway Administration and raised a further $2m from a crowdfunding campaign.