Solar paneled roads: living in the future
It was on the 12th of November that the Netherlands had made a step to the future; the first 70-meter bike lane created by solar panels was opened to the public in the province of Krommenie, just outside Amsterdam. Nevertheless, the project which is to be extended to 100 meters in the next two years is far from being finished, as it is tested to be later applied to roadways.
The “SolaRoad” project was the result of the common efforts of industrial, governmental and research actors. The Netherlands has set a good and original example trying to align with the environmental principles of the European Union and a more extended use of the renewable energies.
The solar panels are specially made in order to be weight resistant. However, they do not produce as much energy as normally positioned panels, because their adjustment to the position of the sun during the day is impossible. Of course, the energy produced by the solar panels can be used to power traffic lights, households, even electric cars. More specifically, the Dutch 100-meter bike lane will be able to produce energy for three households.
The “Solar Roadways” project
Overseas, a similar project called “Solar Roadways” is being prepared. A crowd funding campaign was launched to raise funds in order for the project to become a reality. At its official site a video presentation analyzes the advantages and benefits that such a project could have.
First and foremost, it is underlined that solar paneled roadways generate electricity and by definition capital. As a consequence, there is an obvious return on investment and a lower electricity cost from which everybody benefits.
In addition to all of these economic advantages, there is a practical side too. These panels will have the ability to transform a part of the collected energy to keep their surface at a stable temperature above zero, in order to prevent the snow from forming a layer during the winter. Road lanes’ and parking lots’ configurations could be easily programed, while the pressure sensitivity of the panels would be useful to inform drivers of a road incident or accident.
Are these projects realistic?
Unfortunately, this eco-friendly solution has a huge disadvantage; the cost of production of solar-powered roads can be 50 to 300% more expensive than regular roads, while the American version of the project raises the bar higher by adding sophisticated uses that elevate the cost even more. In fact, the cost of “SolaRoad” is about $3.75 million.
It is to be taken into consideration that solar panels were originally conceived for another use; thereafter, they must be adapted to this new conception. However, the importance of the idea cannot be ignored, because of the potential positive impact not only on the environment, but also on the economy.
Etudiante en Master 2 Droit de l’économie numérique, inspirée par la problématique des données personnelles, le droit du numérique, le e-commerce et l’innovation.