The path to solar roadways is said to be paved with good intentions. But actually it’s going to be paved with modular, concrete-reinforced photovoltaic panels protected by tempered glass.
At least that’s the vision that Idaho-based Solar Roadways has had for the past few years. So far they’ve managed to build an 11-meter-long solar parking lot next to the company’s lab.
Meanwhile, the Dutch are taking a slightly different approach. This week a town in the northern suburbs of Amsterdam officially opened a 70-meter stretch of bike path they claim is the world’s first road to convert sunlight into electricity. They plan to add at least another 25 meters to the SolaRoad project in the next two years.
They’re testing the bike path for two things, mainly. Can it generate enough juice to power street lighting, traffic systems, electric cars and households? And will it hold up to the daily wear and tear of cyclists, joggers and baby strollers, not to mention extreme weather and falling objects?
If SolaRoad proves successful in both areas, the Dutch hope to extend the project to turn entire thoroughfares into massive solar panels. Designed by, ya know, road scholars.