Solar bike paths surpass energy expectations

Netherlands trial off to a great start as 70-metre length delivers 3,000 kWh
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A solar panel clad 70-metre bike path in the Netherlands is outstripping feedback predictions just six months into the trial by generating enough electricity to power a small household for a year. 

With the added perk of lighting up by night to guide riders, the solar paths have in the first six months delivered 3,000kWh. On a fine sunny day, the paths can produce enough power to feed three small homes.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, SolaRoad’s Sten de Wit said: "If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70kwh per square metre per year."

Tough enough to support a 12 tonne truck and with engineered in surface grip, the paths are made up of cheap mass-produced solar panels sandwiched between layers of glass, silicon rubber and concrete.

Connected to smart metres, the trail path’s electricity supply currently powers the street lighting.

Some 150,000 cyclists have thus far used the route and with results so far delivering positive feedback, the technology looks set to expand in the Netherlands. SolaRoad has also signed a cooperation agreement with the US state of California.

"Solar panels on roofs are designed to have a lifetime, which is typically 20/25 years," added de Wit.

"This is the type of lifetime that we also want for these types of slabs. If you have a payback time of 15 years then afterwards you also have some payback of the road itself so that makes the road cheaper in the end."

Back in 2013 a UK-made UV-powered 'star path' was laid down in Cambridge. Read more about that here.

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