Solar panels are to be fitted onto stretches of our roads next year in the UK. Doing so will provide clean energy to various businesses and homes that are connected to them.
These photovoltaic panels are a quarter of an inch thick and can be glued onto the road’s surface. Engineers that are developing the technology report that the material being used is durable enough to withstand the weight of even the heaviest vehicles.
Colas, a subsidiary company of the French engineering firm Bouygues, plans to test its Wattway solar road at three sites in the UK.
In order to power one home for a year, the solar road requires 1,000 hours of sunlight per 12ft. Cambridge, a location put forward as one of the likely test sites, receives about 1,500 hours of sunlight per year.
The impressive idea of turning roads into solar panels gained momentum, after a crowdfunding campaign by Idaho’s own Solar Roadways, went viral.
Despite the popularity of this idea, critics claim that the panels will not receive enough light, due to the cars blocking the sunlight as they travel over them. In addition, they cite the issue of keeping the panels clean enough to soak up a sufficient amount of sunlight.
Regardless, the engineers behind this new trial are confident in the Wattway’s design.
If you compare the number of square kilometres of road that are available to become energy sources right now to building the equivalent solar farm in a field, the potential of this project amplifies, Colas’s development manager, Pierre Trotobas informed.
Power generated by the solar road can be fed into the National Grid, or directly into street lights, electric road signs or even electric vehicles.
The advantageous company is planning about 100 test schemes worldwide and hopes to make the technology more economical by 2020.