SolaRoad is a road surface that acts as a solar panel. A SolaRoad will be officially opened on the 12th of November by Minister Kamp in Holland. They claim it is the first road in the world that converts sunlight into electricity.
SolaRoad was developed by TNO, the Province of North-Holland, Ooms Civiel and Imtech Traffic & Infra. The road surface converts sunlight into energy. The pilot road, a bike lane, is about 230 feet made of concrete modules that can supply enough energy for three homes.
Solar cells are fitted in one traveling direction underneath a tempered glass top layer which is approximately 1 cm (.39370079 inches) thick.
The other side of the road does not have solar cells because it is used to test various top layers.
Eventually the solar power from the road will be used for applications such as street lighting, traffic systems, electric cars (which drive on the surface) and households.
For a three years, various measurements will be taken and tests performed to enable SolaRoad to undergo further development.
A group of businesses, research institutes and local government supported the deployment SolaRoad.
Project manager Wim van der Poel has said it is a “starting point” and that using energy to charge electric cars while they are driving over the road is “a beautiful dream, which might become reality”.
A solar energy road will also offer a unique chance to integrate different functions into the road surface. Sensors gathering information about traffic circulation can help improve traffic management, or even allow automatic vehicle guidance. Other possible functions are variable road markings, ‘tag-along’ LED-lights and heating in winter. And eventually, a system for wireless energy transfer to vehicles. To learn more about testing of battery charging in roads read this article by Lynn Walford at Automotive IT News.