Last year, the world was shaken by the ‘big news’ of a solar road built in the Netherlands in the small town of Krommenie, north of Amsterdam.
The road is actually a 70-metre bike path, made of solar panels embedded in between glass, silicon rubber and concrete layers. The panels are capable of sustaining the load of 12-tonne fire trucks. Their life span is claimed to be as long as 20 years. Each individual panel is connected to a smart meter designed to optimize their output and ensure straight supply of electricity into the grid or the street lighting system. Besides, if any of those is broken, in shadow, or covered with dirt, the system will only switch off that panel without affecting the rest.
In all, it took five years to make this installation durable enough to run the tests. Now, after a six-month testing period, the bike path seems to be functioning even better than expected. Its generating power totals 3,000 kWh, which is enough for a small household to go on for a year. So far, the only fault the testing team noticed was a small road section delaminated because of temperature fluctuations.
Engineers believe the potential of such roads is huge. In fact, SolaRoad, the group behind the project, is now negotiating with local councils to expand the project to other Dutch provinces and has signed a similar agreement with California. So, it’s a breath-taking perspective we are in for.