Interesting: First Solar Energy Road Doing Better Than Anticipated

I actually almost find myself in total agreement with this Climate Progress article

In its first six months of existence, the world’s first solar road is performing even better than developers thought.

The road, which opened in the Netherlands in November of last year, has produced more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy — enough to power a single small household for one year, according to Al-Jazeera America.

“If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70kwh per square meter per year,” Sten de Wit, a spokesman for the project — dubbed SolaRoad — told Al Jazeera America. “We predicted [this] as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year.” (big snip)

Though the Netherlands’ solar road seems to be going as planned, solar roads overall typically aren’t as effective at producing energy as solar arrays on a house or in a field. That’s because the panels in solar roads can’t be tilted to face the sun, so they don’t get as much direct sunlight as panels that are able to be tilted. However, solar roads don’t take up vast tracts of land, like some major solar arrays do, and they can be installed in heavily-populated areas.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I think these kinds of projects are great ideas, and should be supported. Not for “climate change”, but simply for the reason that we should take advantage of “free” energy, such as solar energy, and use it. In this case, the energy should be used to provide lighting for the bike roadway. Paving helps create the Urban Heat Island Effect: why not offset it by using the roadway to produce energy?

The energy produced is rather low for solar panels, yet, the point of using roadways is still a good one. Of course, the cost needs to come down quite a bit. It supposedly cost $3.3 million to create this half mile of bike roadway. You could power quite a few homes for that chunk of change.

There are other projects out there to produce energy from roadways, both by turning them into solar receptors and from driving over the roadways. IMO, these projects should be supported if they show promise.

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3 Responses to “Interesting: First Solar Energy Road Doing Better Than Anticipated”

  1. Kevin says:

    $3.7 million for 6MW/year. That’s a pretty high price to pay especially since the wattage will decrease every year and probably disappear entirely in 10 years. That’s $61/kWhr over the lifetime of the road. They’ve still got a long way to go.

  2. jay says:

    As Kevin notes, this is a long way from being economically viable, and therefore a long way from being of any practical value.

    But that’s what you’d expect from an early prototype. Remember all those films of the first rockets blowing up on the launch pad? It’s pretty routine for new technologies to start out very expensive and then come down in price as techniques are developed. The first prototype typically has huge labor costs because it’s hand built, there’s lots of waste as people figure out how to do it right, etc.

    The question is whether there is realistic hope that prices will come down and/or energy produced will go up, and what might realistically be expected. It certainly sounds like it’s worth investigating, though.

  3. JGlanton says:

    Spending $3.5 million dollars to generate $850 dollars worth of electricity per year is far, far away from any realistic hope that prices will come down or energy produce will go up. That’s a 4000 year return on investment. Except that the panels will last 15 years. What it is, is a stupid waste of Other People’s Money in the guise of environmentalism.

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