*Pic via Qilu Evening News
A recent installation of 2km (1.2 miles) of solar roadway in China Solar was the subject of a recent highway robbery as thieves made off with a portion of the solar panels.
Solar Freaking Roadways enjoyed a brief fifteen minutes of fame when this entertaining video was released in 2014. The video has been watched over 22 million times and, while we loved the idea, we had questions…
For example, how will the sun penetrate dirt and oil produced by passing cars and how will solar roadways work in the snow?
Solar roadways have a complex construction model; “transparent concrete” provides a protective upper layer for the photovoltaic cells which are sandwiched between it and an insulating bottom layer. They have to withstand the vibrations and weight of traffic which results in a very expensive price tag. Would it not be better to spend this money installing even more above-ground solar farms?
The experimental solar roadway in the Netherlands carried a hefty price tag of $3.7 million to build and only produces enough energy to power one residential home. If spent on rooftop solar, the money could have bought enough panels to power 173 homes.
Still, the technology continues to evolve and we would rather have the solar panels under the highway than no solar panels at all.
Sadly, just five days after the solar roadway was installed in China, thieves have pulled up the “transparent concrete” and stolen a portion of the panels. It is through to be an act of corporate espionage according to the Qilu Evening News,
Despite the criticisms, solar roadways may actually offer us some valuable resources in the future. According to TechNode, research is ongoing on electromagnetic induction coils that could actually recharge cars as they drive along the roadway. Sensors on the roadways can collect data on traffic that can help with traffic control and city planning.
Some power could be diverted from the roadway to melt snow in the winter, making roads safer and negating the need of snowplows and salt which causes environmental damage.
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