The world’s very first solar energy roadway was unveiled on Wednesday, Nov. 12 — and this 230-foot span of bike path in the Netherlands could lead to huge strides in the world of solar green energy.
According to the New York Times, the solar panels on the Krommenie bike path were installed by SolaRoad, a project dedicated to solar energy roadways and green energy solutions. Each solar panel is set in concrete and covered by heavy-duty tempered glass to protect them from the bike path’s everyday traffic. The glass is also covered in a non-slip surface to protect pedestrians from slipping.
In a statement, Sten de Wit, of engineering firm TNO, said that each square meter of this solar green energy path should generate about 50 to 70 kilowatt hours of energy annually. That’s enough energy to power one, or even two, households.
The Netherlands continues to be one of the world’s leading nations in the move toward green energy; it’s a country of 17 million people and 18 million bicycles. The Dutch government plans to triple the country’s use of sustainable energy by 2020, with the eventual hope to become energy neutral by 2050.
According to Yahoo News, the energy generated by this bike path will be used by the Dutch national energy grid, but could potentially be used to power street lights in the future. De Wit said another future plan is to make electric cars and bikes that are able to charge and refuel directly from a solar-powered road with something called contactless charging.
However, the solar panel roadway concept is still very much in its developing stages. The bike path in Krommenie — a town close to Amsterdam — is a test run of the technology that will last for three years, the New York Times reports. The bike path project cost approximately $3 million, meaning it’s likely too expensive for solar-powered roadways to be installed on a wider scale yet.
But if proven to be a success, this small stretch of bike path could mark a major shift toward cleaner, greener energy sourced from Earth’s biggest power source of all — the sun.
What do you think about solar-powered roadways? Do you think they will ever be universally adopted? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.