If you know me much at all, you know that I love solar energy and I love bicycling for transportation purposes. Also, you might know that I lived in the Netherlands for 5 months in graduate school. So, yeah, the project I’m writing about here caught my attention.
You may have already heard about some ideas for utilizing solar energy that hits our roadways, since we’ve covered some of these a few times (see: New Technology Could Make Roads a Solar Energy Source; Oregon Launching First Solar Highway in the US; Solar Power Roads: Harvesting Energy from America’s Fields of Asphalt).
Now, this project is a little different than any of those. SolaRoad, by TNO, is a road that really doubles as a solar panel. The specific design and material are yet to be finalized, and a pilot project in North Holland it going to test out some options. The pilot project’s features are such:
- “The cycle path is constructed of concrete elements measuring 1.5 by 2.5 metres and contains a glass top layer.”
- “Beneath this one cm thick hardened glass layer lie crystal silicon solar cells.”
- “In consultation with the partners, the pilot will determine how the energy will be used and how smart ICT applications can enable the energy produced in peak periods (a lot of sun) to be distributed as efficiently as possible for the periods of little or no light.”
The first practical application of the SolaRoad is planned for 2012, and “[t]he aim is for the product to be commercially available within a short time and to develop a suitable and sound business model for it.”
Images via TNO
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