The first of its kind bicycle path with integrated solar panels will be open to public use as of next week in the Netherlands. The incredible invention will provide a safe road for biking residents of Amsterdam, while generating electricity for the grid.
The solar bike path, built under The SolaRoad project, has been under construction for the past five years. Located in one of the busy suburbs of Amsterdam, It covers a modest stretch of 70m in lenght (expected to be extended to 100m soon), and 3.5 m in width. The path is made of concrete slabs with a layer of crystalline silicon solar cells and covered with strong protective translucent tempered glass, which allows the light to penetrate through.
The path will be open to public use next week, when the initial three-year long tests will begin. The purpose of this would be to allow precise estimation of how much energy can be generated, as well as to test safety in various weather conditions. Preliminary calculations estimate that the energy generated by the bike path would be sufficient to power traffic installations and road lighting, with some power to spare. All electricity will be diverted to the Dutch national grid.
The SolaRoad project is part of a bigger initiative by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). It was established back in 2009 with the aim to estimate how much of the busy and very extensive Dutch road network can be used for solar power generation.
Unlike the popular Solar Roadways project, which blew everyone away with their super ambitious goals to turn road network into fancy solar farms with smart road signs and heat systems, SolaRoad is only focusing on the small scale. The guys behind the project (see video here) are first betting on high efficiency, and once the technology is optimized, they will look into growing bigger.
Image (c) SolaRoad