The Netherlands is slated to open the world's first solar bike path, SolaRoad, next Wednesday. It runs through the northern suburb of Amsterdam, the town of Krommeny, and is built of concrete blocks with built-in solar panels that will convert solar energy into electricity for the local electricity grid.
The SolaRoad project has been in development since 2009, when the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research studied the solar potential of Dutch roads. According to her calculations, out of 140, 000 km of roads in the country, from 400 to 500 square kilometers, their surface can be potentially used for solar energy.
The solar cells inside the concrete blocks are protected by a 1 cm layer of tempered glass on top. It is transparent enough to let in sunlight and hard enough to withstand stress. The 70 meter long track will be thoroughly tested by specialists in a variety of parameters over the course of three years. In addition to exactly how much electricity this large solar array will produce, researchers are also interested in how safe it will be in various weather conditions.
In the future, the length of the cycle path is planned to be increased to 100 meters, and the electricity obtained in this way can be used to illuminate streets, houses or charge electric vehicles.