Solar panel street (posted 15th May 2015)

Six months ago Solaroad a colaboration between industry, research institutions and the goverment in the Netherlands, built the world’s first solar road – 70m of energy-harvesting bike path paved with glass-coated solar panels. Today the system generates 3000kWh of electricity, enough to power a small household for a year.

The solar panels are strong, being able to support 12-tonne fire trucks and comprise crystalline silicon solar cells. Essentially a solar panel ‘sandwich’ of glass, silicone rubber, concrete and the solar cells which are connected to smart meters. These meters optimise the output and feed the electricity straight into either the street or grid, as needed.

The cycle path runs between the suburbs of Krommenie and Wormerveer in Amsterdam. While this has been the ‘tester’ road it’s thought that up to 20 percent of the Netherlands road may be suitable for a solar upgrade.

To date more than 150 000 cyclists have ridden over the solar panels, with only 1 noticed fault. The panels have been designed to have approximately a 20 year lifespan. 

Solar panel street
Solaroad under construction: putting the prefabricated panels together

Solar panel street
The Solaroad cycle path in action

Solar panel street
Design lab Studio Roosegaarde's solar panel cycle path which sucks up the sun's energy during the day and then guids cyclists at night using beautiful Vincent Van Gogh 'Starry Starry Night- inspired LED lights.

Now, how long before we have a solar panel path in the UK?