One year ago, the Netherlands constructed a bike path made of photovoltaic cells, connecting Amsterdam and its suburbs. It was a pilot program to test and show the possibility of solar roadways as a profitable solution.
"If we can additionally incorporate solar cells in road pavements, then a large extra area will become available for decentralized solar energy generation without the need for extra space ... and just part of the roads which we build and use anyway," says Sten de Wit from the SolaRoad consortium in an interview with Fast Co.
The team plans to build on the experience they gained through the pilot program. The initial prototype was pricey. However, the team is looking for a solar road to pay for itself within 15 years of use. As technologies improve, cost goes down.
Elon Musk has demonstrated this kind of product planning with his Tesla series. He has already stated that Tesla will be moving into the third stage of its development plan, producing a mass-market car. It's expected to be priced at $35,000 and roll out before 2020.
“That was the goal with Tesla ... to try to serve as a catalyst to accelerate the day, the day of electric vehicles.”
The company says each square meter generates about 70 kilowatt-hours every year, and the entire roadway generated a total of 9,800 kWh over the course of the entire year, which is enough to power three homes. These are real-world results, which include blockage from pollution, passing cyclists and pedestrians, and weather.
"Most people do not even notice the difference with a regular bike road," he said in an interview with Fast Co. "That is exactly what we aim to achieve: roads doing whatever they have to do to be a proper road, while harvesting solar energy on the fly."
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Photo Credit: Sola Road