Air Quality

Published on April 21st, 2015 | by Glenn Meyers


South Korea Launches PV-Covered Bike Lane For Unused Infrastructure

April 21st, 2015 by  

Korea has created a PV-covered bike lane connecting Sejong and Daejeon which offers a clean transit option that utilizes unused median space in an existing highway, while providing renewable solar electricity.

The PV-covered bike lanes runs approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Sejong to Daejeon. Bicyclists are protected by a guard rail.

Korea bike-lane

This innovative use of unused infrastructure is part of a proposed bike path network that will eventually cover more than 217 miles (350 kilometers) around the city of Sejong. According to Gas2, “Korea’s crowded highways have convinced many commuters to ditch four wheels and an engine for two wheels and pedals.”

To understand this bike path, take a glance at this video recorded from a drone camera. A viewer can see the bicycle road between Daejeon and Sejong: both cities are located 2~3 hours south of Seoul. Solar panels not only generate power but also provide protection to cyclists from sun and rain.

Other cities have futuristic plans for bike travellers, including London and Copenhagen. Whether or not they eventually become standards remains to be determined. They do, however, represent transit planning that does not rely exclusively on automobiles. This is especially pertinent as urban space becomes more congested with population growth.

Leave bikes behind for a moment, and just think of capturing energy that is part of our infrastructure. Imagine what might happen when we try to capture all of the lost wind energy coming from highway motorists and convert it to electricity! Try placing a series of small wind turbines on Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway! With the correct placement, there would be plenty of electricity to distribute.

Image via Solar Instructions

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • Wayne Williamson

    seems like the breaks at every third panel would be annoying while you biked…maybe not,..just wondering…..

  • sjc_1

    Make it a canopy with charging for electric bikes.

  • Philip W

    how much power does it have?

  • Donald Zenga

    Excellent concept. Similarly solar panels can be placed on top of all railway tracks.

    I did a simple calculation to see how much solar power could be generated this way.

    1 square meter (10 square feet) of solar panel generates 150 watts. A standard gauge railway track is 1.44 meters (4 feet 8 inches), and the width of the train is around 2.5 meters (between 7 – 9 feet) and there is 0.6 meters (2 feet) of free space to the sides of the train so that another train can pass thru and if you include all this, a track take 3 meters (10 feet) of space in width and this is available for solar panels to be placed on top.

    In 1 meter track length with the width being 3 meters translates to 3 square meters of space and
    if 150 watts can be generated in 1 square meter then in 3 square meters = 450 watts of power can be generated. So in 1 kilometer (1,000 meters or 0.6 miles), 450,000 watts or 450 kilowatts can be generated.

    USA has railway route length of 230,000 km (140,000 miles). If 450 kilowatts can be generated in 1 square kilometer, then 450 KW * 230,000 = 103,500,000 KW or 103 GW (gigawatts) of power. And this is presuming that there is single track, but in many places, there are 2 or 3 tracks and if we install in all the tracks, then there could be more power that can be generated.

    1 GW can power 300,000 American homes and so 103 GW can power 30 million American homes. This will provide significant income to the rail company while giving lot of clean, green power to the community and the nation.

    • Michael G

      Typo (sort of) – in 2nd to last para., I think you mean 1 km of track length (= 0.003 sq. km.) – not 1 sq. km.

      Could apply to urban roads and highways just as well, which would be closer to use.

      • Donald Zenga

        Michael G – Thanks for reading and correcting it.

        I changed it from 1 square kilometer


        1 kilometer of track length

    • Wayne Williamson

      The next step is to times it by 1000 for the number of producing hours a year, and you end up with 103 twh, or around 10 billion dollars of electricity produced each year…at 10 cents a kwh.

  • JamesWimberley

    As a bike path, this one is pretty unattractive: monotonous, noisy, and with lousy air quality.

    • Pique Ewe

      Perhaps, but sure is an attractive option over the sardine-packed commuter buses that I used try to catch every morning. I say TRY to catch because I would miss several before landing one, back in my Junior High School days in 70s. It was so crowded that my head would get caught between adults and sometimes feel like bursting, so severely squeezed it was. Compared to that nightmare, this is heaven. I wish I had had that option back then from Ahyeon Dong to Bukchon.

    • Matt

      And a long way from any nice stopping spots, and make sure you don’t forget your own water.

  • anderlan

    Just, no. The wind resource from a highway sucks. The energy cars use to move air out of the way might be better recovered by covering the highway. Which you could then cover in solar panels. Just…just…do the math and physics before imagining things. BTW, if every piece of infrastructure was covered with panels above, every kwhr of energy the world uses in total per year would be generated in a year.

    • Michael G

      I read a DoE piece that said the US could generate all it’s electricity if just 7% of *developed* areas were covered in solar panels. I’m not clear why more use isn’t made of roads for solar.

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