SolaRoad cycle path electricity yield exceeds expectations

SolaRoad
Credit: SolaRoad

What a concept for a pilot project. Can't we change our roads into gigantic solar panels? Harvest energy from them? Get solar electricity from them, fed into the electricity grid and used for street lighting, traffic systems, households and electric cars?

A public-private partnership in the Netherlands has such a going on, in the form of sunlight on the road surfaces converted into electricity, in the form of a bike path. The project participants for SolaRoad want the world to know that this project so far is looking good. SolaRoad is in a pilot phase for a three-year period; The Associated Press said that this was a 3.5-million Euro project.

The first six months of the pilot phase were successful, according to a SolaRoad press release issued earlier this month. The energy yield was beyond their expectations. Spokesperson Sten de Wit said they were surprised to see the level of success so quickly. Case in point: "The bike road opened half a year ago and already generated over 3,000 kWh," he said. "If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70 kWh per square meter per year, which we predicted as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year."

The engineers behind the bike path design had to develop a solar road that could not only have requisite strength but also resist skids. SolaRoad has been described as a "living lab" of about 70 meters.

SolaRoad cycle path electricity yield exceeds expectations
Credit: SolaRoad

The cycle path is made up of concrete modules of 2.5 by 3.5 meters. Solar cells are fitted and protected by a centimeter-thick top layer of safety glass with a transparent, skid-resistant coating. The other lane does not have solar cells; it serves as a test area. SustainableBusiness.com said that, "While a flat solar panel is 30 percent less efficient than those at an angle or rooftop, there's plenty of surface to make up for that."

This living lab, however, has hit some issues along the way. Jon Fingas in Engadget wrote, "Things haven't been going perfectly. The coating on the ' protective glass tends to peel off when the weather changes, for example, suggesting that the path could be expensive to maintain as-is." (The press release said that at the end of December 2014 and in early Spring of 2015 a small section of the coating "delaminated." Large temperature fluctuations can cause local delamination due to shrinkage in the coating, it noted. "Repairs have been made and the development of an improved top layer is now in an advanced stage.") The AP report said the fluctuations caused part of it to peel off namely in early winter and early spring.

Fingas remarked that, as the project to last for another two and a half years, "SolaRoad believes that it'll have plenty of time to iron out the kinks, and it's confident enough that it plans to test its technology on small municipal roads in the future."

SolaRoad officially opened in November 2014. Ubergizmo said about 150,000 cyclists have crossed the SolaRoad in the six months that it has gone live.

The AP report said SolaRoad's public-private partnership includes the province of Noord-Holland, TNO, Ooms Civiel and Imtech.

Looking to the future, TNO project manager Wim ven der Poel said, "Using this energy to charge while they are driving over the road is a beautiful dream, which might become reality. SolaRoad acts as a step towards a closed ecosystem. From mobility through energy back to mobility – which makes the circle complete."


Explore further

SolaRoad: World's first solar cycle path to open in the Netherlands

More information: SolarRoad produces more energy than expected: us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=f … 31492e&id=39c5c2acf8

SolaRoad: www.solaroad.nl/en/

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May 12, 2015
24 houses served with 1 mile road.

May 13, 2015
"If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70 kWh per square meter per year


That's 8 Watts per square meter.

A rooftop panel in the Netherlands would be expected to generate three times the amount, or conversely, cost three times less per kWh, minus the cost of underground wiring and the safety glass.

It just doesn't make any economical sense. Solar power in northern Europe is already too expensive as it is, and this is just a horrible waste of refined silicon.

May 13, 2015
"While a flat solar panel is 30 percent less efficient than those at an angle or rooftop, there's plenty of surface to make up for that."


True - if you were talking about just the orientation of the solar panel. Also not true if you're at the equator where flat panels would generate more than south facing panels.

But, here we have a thick pane of glass with a diffusing surface with dirt on top that absorbs a great deal of the light energy and prevents it from ever reaching the panels. It's not just 30% less efficient, it's about 70% less efficient.

Besides, it takes about 9 kWh to make a kilogram of glass, and a 2x3x0.01 m panel is 150 kilos, thereby 1350 kWh is consumed in making the glass alone. With 8 Watts per sq-m you get 420 kWh a year and spend the first 3 years just paying back the energy to make the safety glass.


May 13, 2015
https://www.youtu...sYLqjUtU

South Korea are doing solar roadways right, next we just need to get rid of the disgusting petrol and diesel vehicles to allow cycling on roads to flourish, there are few things worse than needing to breathe air deeply when all you can taste is some fat c*nts exhaust toxins.

May 13, 2015
rooftop panel in the Netherlands would be expected to generate three times the amount, or conversely, cost three times less per kWh, minus the cost of underground wiring and the safety glass.


You (and everybody) fails to understand that the idea behind that was/is to create bicycle roads with an added value which could generate electricity to keep itself ice free or illuminate itself at night. Our bicycle roads cost money anyway and we must keep them ice free and illuminated anyway. And the cost of snow machines, salt, erosion caused by these, etc are to be counted to that too. Or just to power emergency phones like the ones in the highways without the risk of getting the poles blown up during a storm (our dykes have bicycle paths and roads on them)

Nobody is so stupid as to think on substituting roof tops etc with bicycle roads with sun panels. I would give our engineers at least the benefit of doubt as they have been doing a very good job keeping our feet dry.

May 13, 2015
Solar-powered streetlights! I've heard them all now... (How big is the battery pack and how often will it have to be renewed?) Above 45deg latitude flat solar panels are pretty much useless in winter, when you need the longest duration of streetlighting. So you need a backup means of generation, meaning extra expense duplicating installed capacity.

May 13, 2015
3.5 million Euros for 70 meters of cycle path. The guy who approved this project must be a psychopath!

May 13, 2015
Well, I guess they could have made part of the road out of coal slurry, with toxins and heavy metals and radionuclides, to keep the coal folks happy.

Or he could have invested his money in Fukushima Dai-ichi!

Oh, . . wait, . . .

May 13, 2015

It just doesn't make any economical sense.


In their (English) faq, they say that if solar panels are placed on all usable roofs then they would still only supply +/- 1/4 of the amount of electricity that the Dutch use. Roads cover a larger area than the suitable roof surface area. So it might be an alternative capable to enlarge this potential economically.


3.5 million Euros for 70 meters of cycle path. The guy who approved this project must be a psychopath!


You can also read there that this cycle path is only a small part of the whole project.

May 13, 2015
Solar-powered streetlights!


With the 3K kwatts that this delvers you could very easily add a few small LED lamps to see the road or even a relatively big one.

Of course, a holliwood style flood light will not be possible, but guess what? Here in Hollywood and we are not completely stupid and our bikes usually have lights (well, some still need to find out how to switch them on, but that's another story).

To sum it up: The project works, it is delivering 3000KW, it has been for working for a while so that all the talk is just for nothing. Plus, it is adapted to my country and our needs. I am well aware that if this were built to US specs it would have been using a gasoline engine and be equipped with bible dispensors... but here in Holland we prefer it the other way. Different cultures, you know? ;)

May 13, 2015
Solar-powered streetlights!


With the 3K kwatts that this delvers you could very easily add a few small LED lamps to see the road or even a relatively big one.

Of course, a holliwood style flood light will not be possible, but guess what? Here in Hollywood and we are not completely stupid and our bikes usually have lights (well, some still need to find out how to switch them on, but that's another story).

To sum it up: The project works, it is delivering 3000KW, it has been for working for a while so that all the talk is just for nothing. Plus, it is adapted to my country and our needs. I am well aware that if this were built to US specs it would have been using a gasoline engine and be equipped with bible dispensors... but here in Holland we prefer it the other way. Different cultures, you know? ;)


Eric, we live with too many naysayers......

If they were around during the caveman, we would still be in a cave....... without a fire.....or food......

May 13, 2015
JUST Make a STRICT RULE....1 BIKE Road ABOVE ABOVE ABOVE EVERY CAR ROAD...Except on The HIGHWAYS! DO YOU RECOMMEND Exercise Going to Stores OR Not?

May 13, 2015
JUST Make a STRICT RULE....1 BIKE Road ABOVE ABOVE ABOVE EVERY CAR ROAD...Except on The HIGHWAYS! DO YOU RECOMMEND Exercise Going to Stores OR Not?

IF YOU DO NOT WANT A BIKE ....Try a RICKSHAW...Do Google IMAGE Search!

May 14, 2015
3.5 million Euros for 70 meters of cycle path. The guy who approved this project must be a psychopath!

If that company can find a path to market for what could be a product with global demand, 3.5 million for this custom-made R&D setup is peanuts, an excellent investment in fact.

Let me give you an example:

Cost to Develop New Pharmaceutical Drug Now Exceeds $2.5B

http://www.scient...ds-2-5b/

Do you think pharma execs who approve these projects are nuts then?

May 14, 2015
"You (and everybody) fails to understand that the idea behind that was/is to create bicycle roads with an added value which could generate electricity to keep itself ice free or illuminate itself at night."


There's no value added if the whole system is significantly more expensive than getting the power from elsewhere. It's just wasting resources compared to the traditional concrete block pavement because it takes so much energy to make the solar panels and the glass.

"In their (English) faq, they say that if solar panels are placed on all usable roofs then they would still only supply +/- 1/4 of the amount of electricity that the Dutch use."


That's because solar power in northern Europe is a bad idea in general. Solar panels there have 20-30 year payback periods as they are, which is close to their technical lifespan - without the 70% reduction in output.

With it, they are never paying themselves back, and end up negative in value.

May 14, 2015
The unit of measurement for everything to Eikka seems to be money. There are other things in life - REAL things, not invented stand-ins like money. '

Quality of Life got subsumed by the Capitalist rating of Standard of Living. One shows us happiness and life satisfaction, the other the amount of stuff we degrade the Earth for so we can have it in our rented storage.

May 14, 2015
Another 6.8 earthquake at Fukushima. Is it an aftershock, or a pre-shock of a bigger one?

May 14, 2015
Let me know when a concrete path provides a return on investment that can go into my bank account. The way I see it, this is costing money, yes. Does it provide a service? Multiple! (bikes/ walk/ electricity). Is it amazingly efficient? No. I don't see why folks are so against trying something new that takes time to prove out. Give it a chance!

May 14, 2015
Cost to Develop New Pharmaceutical Drug Now Exceeds $2.5B

Do you think pharma execs who approve these projects are nuts then?


1 kilometer of a 4 lane highway, including bridges, lights etc. costs approximately 5 million Euros.

Anybody who thinks that 70 meters of a self deicing bike trail costing 3.5mln Euro is an excellent investment is a candidate for a brain transplant.

A kilometer of an asphalted and painted bike trail in Canada costs between $25-50k. Same I believe in Europe. Those millions of Euros of UE subsidies would be better spend on cancer research or hospital equipment than wasted in some stupid projects.


May 15, 2015
Different cultures, you know? ;)


Yes. So let's think the American way. For 2mln Euro per 70 meters of a bike trail I can offer you the highest standard of building, free, zero emission maintenance for 99 years and still pocket enough money to call myself a millionaire.

That's the American culture my friend.

May 15, 2015
let's think the American way

Funny you should say that. A US company, Solar Roadways, just crowd-funded $2.2m from 50,000 people to develop pretty much the same system.

https://www.indie...roadways

I'd say that's a pretty good indication of demand :-)

May 15, 2015
"The unit of measurement for everything to Eikka seems to be money. There are other things in life - REAL things, not invented stand-ins like money."


Money measures economic and social activity, which measures overall energy and resource use of the society. This is not question of whether I or anybody else appreciates or values money over other things, but a simple empirical evaluation of the situation:

To have money to pay for a solar panel, money must be created, which means work must be done, which means resources must be consumed such as food, housing, electricity, water, minerals, metals...

In other words, when something costs more than it pays back, it indirectly consumes more energy and resources than it gives you. Therefore if the solar roads fail to pay themselves back within their lifetime, they're not actually producing any net energy.

So what's the point?

May 15, 2015
"Quality of Life got subsumed by the Capitalist rating of Standard of Living."


There's no quality of life if you continue to spend more than you make. If it takes more than the combined economic effort of the whole rest of society to run the energy sector, then there is no life in the first place because you run out of energy. You can't sustain it.

Money is a measure and metric of the REAL cost, and not a value in itself. Without this metric, or some other like it, you have no idea what you're doing or what is happening.

That's the great fallacy of people who think it doesn't matter how much things costs because "there are other values than money"; as if you could do the impossible if you just remain happily ignorant of the fact that it can't be done.

May 15, 2015
3.5 million Euros for 70 meters of cycle path. The guy who approved this project must be a psychopath!


if you take into account that it is the cost of the full DEVEOLPEMENT team what you are paying for it's not too much.

Note that this is not some stuff somebody has bought and put on a random place, it is an ongoing development project involving a whole team of engineers of our universities and that is not meant necessarily meant to end up in covering all our roads with that, it can studies viability, materials and other things and may yield results that are not directly related to bike roads...

In your same line of thinking: How much does the LHC cost?

May 15, 2015
They spent 3.5 million euro on a project that will generate 600 euro a year in electric power. The sad thing is that this is considered a success by green standards. Everyone concerned is giving themselves high fives and having meetings aimed at discovering their next taxpayer funded project.

May 15, 2015
"The guy who approved this project must be a psychopath! "

Did you say psychopath or cycle path?

May 15, 2015
Eikka's right. We should have made it out of coal slurry toxins, to keep the filthy fuel folk happy.

May 15, 2015


That's because solar power in northern Europe is a bad idea in general. Solar panels there have 20-30 year payback periods as they are, which is close to their technical lifespan - without the 70% reduction in output.

With it, they are never paying themselves back, and end up negative in value.


Eikka, do you know that in Finance it is considered an error to measure investments using the payback time? (http://en.wikiped..._period) I gound this in wikipedia, but this is not my source, I took an introductory in home finance some years ago.

In this particular case it is the worst tool as you are not talking about an investment in a piece of road but about an investment in a development project including personel, teachers and students from our public universities and the possible use of parts of the results in tangential fields (for instance the knowledge about material resistance can be applied to common solar panels or common roads...

May 15, 2015
I'd say that's a pretty good indication of demand :-)


Yes, I can see this demand here in Toronto. To upgrade all our bike trails we will need just over 28 billion dollars or around $50,000 per household. I'm pretty sure our citizens would vote for it:):)

In the meantime let's take a look at some numbers:

Dutch bike trail - $4mln/70m
Toronto subway extension - $1.47mln/70m


May 15, 2015
in Finance it is considered an error to measure investments using the payback time?


I'm pretty sure they follow the same "economy" in Greece.

May 15, 2015
Over it now? The issue is not immediate financial payback, but advancing the technology. If you had read and understood the article, it would have occurred to you.

May 15, 2015
"The issue is not immediate financial payback, but advancing the technology."

Exactly what technology advance did they make that a precocious 8th grader could not duplicate?

May 15, 2015
I notice you have not done it.

May 16, 2015
"I notice you have not done it. "
Yea and I have not worker in an appendix transplant either.

May 16, 2015
It is a good idea, and will be used, wait and see. I expect electric roads with illuminated markings, and the power to guide self-driving automobiles partly from the the moving vehicles themselves. Probably with piezoelectrics.

May 16, 2015
" and the power to guide self-driving automobiles partly from the the moving vehicles themselves. Probably with piezoelectrics."

Gkam you have been in the power industry long enough to know that there is no free ride as far as energy is concerned. If piezo could supply a meaningful amount of energy you know it would just be a parasitic drain on each vehicle. Now if you are talking about piezo when going down hill or stopping you know that regenerative braking is much more efficient.

May 16, 2015
Yup, I have been in the business long enough to know how much power edge-lighted plastics and glasses require with LEDs.

May 16, 2015
this is just a horrible waste of refined silicon.
A terrible waste of sand?

May 17, 2015
"Therefore if the solar roads fail to pay themselves back within their lifetime, they're not actually producing any net energy.

So what's the point?"
----------------------------------------------------

The point is the lack of thousands of tons of toxic coal waste, no millions of tons of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, no respirable particulates, or radionuclides and heavy metals in the emissions, (all these from coal), no high-level nuclear waste which still cannot be safely stored, and no Nuclear Priesthood, with their secrets and their needed Police State to guard them and keep us away.

That's a start. How much is it worth to keep Mercury and this other stuff out of your kid's environment?

May 17, 2015
SolaRoad is a marketing SCAM. People need to understand that SolaRoad produces less than half the power of rooftop systems. And this can't be improved, it's a fundamental problem with the concept - panels lying flat on the ground will never be at an optimal angle for energy production.

That doesn't even begin to mention the maintenance issues for a solar system with CARS DRIVING OVER IT.

This is very basic stuff folks... SolaRoad survives only through the incompetence of the government officials funding it.

May 17, 2015
Hey, axe, sometimes thinking needs a different approach, with more subtlety, like with a scalpel, instead of an axe. Consider before you swing your sharpened bludgeon, the paragraph or so of mine above, please. And answer the last question.

Thanks.

May 17, 2015
@gkam

Let me draw the comparison very simply for you.

- SolaRoad produces 1 unit of energy per year, is expensive, and requires costly maintenance
- Rooftop panels produce 2 units of energy per year, are cheap, and require little maintenance

If you are choosing which one to buy, for any application, rooftop panels outperform SolaRoad by a greater than 2:1 margin. And that applies to your above statements as well (I should think this would be obvious).

It's also worth noting that SolaRoad's claims of "better than expected results" turn out to be bogus when you actually review the data. As I said before, this is a marketing scam, on the same level as "wifi energy collectors" and the like.

May 17, 2015
Okay, axe, sorry to disappoint, but they did not do it for you, and do not need your approval.

I think it is a proof-of-principle project which will pay off in the future, no matter the carpers.

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