Solar Panels In Roadway Light Up Holland

In a world in which the vast majority of houses don’t have solar panels on their roofs, putting significant resources into developing solar roads might seem a fanciful indulgence. But determined researchers insist that roads inlaid with solar panels can be a viable contributor in the bigger clean-energy picture, and in Holland a solar roadway is apparently going to be built.

Neither the announcement by the group doing the Sola Road project in Krommenie, near Amsterdam, nor a report on Green.Blorge.com said how much the roadway would cost, when exactly it would be built nor how long the it would be. Green.Blorge did, however, say it will start with a concrete base around 5 to 8 feet thick. Photovoltaic cells will be placed over that, and a layer of glass just less than a half-inch thick will cover the PV cells.

image via Provincie Noord-Holland

Reportedly, the glass is strong enough to allow even a truck to safely drive the road. The idea is to use the solar system to power street lights and traffic signals, with the help of smart information communications technologies. Powering homes along the path is also thought to be a possibility.

In the United States, a somewhat similar idea called the Solar Roadways project is exploring the possibilities for taking advantage of road surfaces to produce power. Last year Solar Roadways snared $50,000 in the GE Ecomagination Challenge and earlier received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build a solar road panel prototype.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.