The roads of the future will be used not only to walk and ride on them: new technologies make high-speed roads and even roads in rural areas a source of ecological energy. Six pilot “solar roads” are already launched in different parts of the world, from China to the US.
Road with panels of tempered glass
Scott and Julie Bruceau presented their Solar Roadways project a few years ago. Their goal was to turn the usual asphalt roads into highways that produce energy. The developers used modified solar panels covered with tempered glass, which were built into the road surface. The pilot site of such a road they built in 2016 in his hometown of Sandpoint (Idaho). The Bruce Bruce had plans to create a “sunny” site in the Missouri part of the legendary route 66, but this project was not implemented. Nevertheless, the road section in Sandpoint still functions normally. Recently, developers reported on Facebook that they have proposals for cooperation in South Korea, the UAE, Australia and Austria.
2800 solar panels in France
At the end of 2016, France opened the world’s first full-scale “sunny road”: it is a highway through the French village of Turuvr-o-Persch with a length of one kilometer. It is completely paved with solar panels (their number is about 2800 pieces), and enough energy is produced to feed street lighting throughout the village. The developer of the project is Wattway .
Solar panels in the “road of the future”
A few months after the opening of the French road in the US, a highway section with solar panels produced by Wattway also appeared on the border of Alabama and Georgia . The installation of the panels is only part of the large-scale project The Ray, the “future road” of 18 miles, where several innovations are combined, including a solar powered station for charging electric vehicles.
The highway in China produces 1 million kWh per year
In the city of Jinan (China), the road with solar panels appeared only recently, in early 2018, thanks to the company Qilu Transportation Development Group . The length of the innovative highway is one kilometer, and its cloth consists of three layers: a solid base, solar panels and a transparent protective top layer. Panels cover an area of about 6000 km2 (two roadways and one “reserve”). They are capable of generating about 1 million kWh of clean energy per year. Soon after installation, the developer company was faced with the fact that the thieves had stolen a small piece of the road. Since solar panels are inexpensive, the engineers concluded that someone decided to study the design and operation of the highway.
The bike path feeds electricity to three houses
Solar panels are convenient not only for the highway – they can be used for bicycle paths. One of them is located in Cromenje, the Netherlands: this country is known as one of the most “cycling” in Europe. As cyclists admit, they do not notice any difference between “sunny” and usual bicycle paths. At the same time, the energy generated by the road (70 kW / h per 1 m2) is sufficient to provide energy for three residential buildings. As the developers of the project admit, TNO engineers are more than they expected.
The sidewalk that charges cars
Pedestrian paths are also covered with solar panels. Such a project was implemented in Budapest by Platio . The generated energy allows charging electric vehicles. And if there are surpluses, they go to provide the nearest office buildings.