SolaRoad Netherlands

SolaRoad has operated for a year and produced more power than expected.

A year ago the Dutch town of Krommenie made bicycling even greener by opening a bike path composed of solar panels. This had never been done before, so it was anyone’s guess whether it would succeed as either a path or an energy source. Now the results are in, and they’re not too shabby.

The solar bike path has generated 9,800 kilowatt-hours of energy, according to an update posted on the project’s website. That’s enough to power three households for a year. What’s even more impressive is that, as SolaRoad’s Sten de Wit explained to Fast Company, the results exceeded what the creators were expecting: Their lab assessments of how things like pollution and shade from people using the paths would affect the solar generation led them to underestimate the output.

The success of this pilot lends credence to a broader movement to build infrastructure that promotes a more sustainable society. Since we already need roads to get around, why not also draw some energy from them? That same goal motivated the Idaho-based inventors behind the similarly named Solar Roadways, who are working on parking lots and streets made of modular solar panels, not to mention the U.K. government’s tests of highways that can recharge electric vehicles as they drive.

It’s worth noting that the price tag, originally estimated at $3.7 million, makes SolaRoad an expensive way to get a small amount of electricity. But as a proof of concept the news is reassuring: this isn’t some harebrained scheme, but a practical way to produce nontrivial amounts of power. And whereas most roads cost more over the years as they require maintenance for wear and tear, solar roads pay off their costs simply by existing.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a Google employee on a bicycle.
    Equity

    How Far Will Google’s Billion-Dollar Bay Area Housing Plan Go?

    The single largest commitment by a private employer to address the Bay Area’s acute affordable housing crisis is unique in its focus on land redevelopment.

  2. A person tapes an eviction notice to the door of an apartment.
    Equity

    Why Landlords File for Eviction (Hint: It’s Usually Not to Evict)

    Most of the time, a new study finds, landlords file for eviction because it tilts the power dynamic in their favor—not because they want to eject their tenants.

  3. A map showing the affordability of housing in the U.S.
    Equity

    Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay For A Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere

    The 30th anniversary edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition report, “Out of Reach,” shows that housing affordability is getting worse, not better.

  4. Equity

    Berlin Will Freeze Rents for Five Years

    Local lawmakers agreed to one of Europe’s most radical rental laws, but it sets the stage for a battle with Germany’s national government.

  5. photo of Arizona governor Doug Ducey
    Perspective

    Why FOMO Is the Enemy of Good Urban Mobility Policy

    Fear of Missing Out does not make good transportation policy. Sometimes a new bus shelter is a better investment than flashy new technology.

×